Dolphins perform at venues in China with links to purchasing Taiji caught dolphins.

15 Years After The Cove, Taiji Is Still Capturing and Slaughtering Dolphins



After a groundbreaking documentary, the spotlight was on Taiji, Japan for capturing dolphins for the entertainment industry and slaughtering hundreds. Over a decade later, Taiji’s dolphin hunt is still happening.

World Animal Protection’s latest report, Waves of Profit, highlights the cruelty of Taiji’s dolphin hunt 15 years after the world first learned of its horrors in the groundbreaking Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove. In collaboration with Action for Dolphins, Waves of Profit exposes the venues that continue to purchase dolphins from Taiji and the travel companies that support them.

Action for Dolphins, an Australian-based nonprofit organization, brought forth a legal action against the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in 2015, which led to 62 Japanese aquariums cutting ties with the Taiji dolphin hunts. However, venues in 17 countries including Mexico—a popular tourist destination for Americans—continue to purchase dolphins captured from these grueling hunts, which take place between September and March every year.

During dolphin hunts in Taiji, the animals are violently separated from their family pods to be slaughtered on-site for their flesh (even though demand for whale and dolphin meat in Japan has decreased in recent years) or sent to captive dolphin entertainment venues and forced to perform for crowds. Eyewitnesses have reported that dolphin calves, who are unable to survive on their own, have sometimes been released back to the ocean after their mothers were killed.

Dolphin hunters in Taiji, Japan gather to mercilessly hunt down wild pods of dolphins or other small whales who pass through the waters. Image credit: Robert Gilhooly

Dolphin hunters in Taiji, Japan gather to mercilessly hunt down wild pods of dolphins or other small whales who pass through the waters. Image credit: Robert Gilhooly

While dolphins are painfully and cruelly slaughtered—often being speared below their blowholes to sever their spinal cords—young dolphins who are captured for tourism endure a traumatic journey to entertainment venues around the world.

According to eyewitness accounts, dolphin trainers are present during the hunts to select the most profitable animals—usually female, “unblemished” bottlenose dolphins. If a dolphin has not been selected, they’re killed with their meat being sold for around $500-$600 USD per animal. A dolphin captured for entertainment is sold for approximately $8,000 USD with a fully trained dolphin sold between $40,000 and $150,000 USD.

Tourism is the main source of profit for these dolphin hunts, with 107 dolphin entertainment venues across 17 countries having ties to Taiji’s dolphin hunts. Of the travel companies that sell tickets to dolphin entertainment venues that were vetted in our report, six companies sell venues linked to Taiji. Simply put: the tourism industry ensures that tragically cruel dolphin and whale hunts continue in the Cove.

Unlike travel companies such as Airbnb,, and Expedia, who have all adopted comprehensive animal welfare policies, other travel companies around the world continue to sell tickets to venues that exploit wild animals for entertainment.

World Animal Protection campaigns to transform the tourism industry from one that harms to one that ensures that every wild animal can thrive in an abundant natural habitat that is protected, for the benefit of all.

Five of the world’s largest travel companies that still sell captive wildlife entertainment—, Klook, Traveloka, GetYourGuide, and TUI—were assessed in Waves of Profit, with all five travel companies offering at least two dolphin entertainment venues that purchased dolphins originating from the Taiji dolphin hunts. Groupon, a travel company World Animal Protection has been campaigning against for years, is also linked to offering deals to venues with connections to Taiji dolphin hunts.

Dolphins performing in a show at an entertainment venue in Thailand linked to purchasing Taiji-caught dolphins.

Dolphins performing in a show at an entertainment venue in Thailand linked to purchasing Taiji-caught dolphins.

In August 2023, Klook published an animal welfare policy and will no longer sell tickets to circuses, shows, performances, and animal photo experiences, though it does continue to sell tickets to venues certified by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Of all WAZA’s 1,200 linked venues, 75 percent offer at least one animal visitor interaction including some truly horrific cases that have no place in modern zoos and aquariums.

World Animal Protection recently launched a campaign against GetYourGuide for selling tickets to cruel wildlife venues. While the company describes itself as “a revolutionary approach to tourism,” there’s nothing revolutionary about supporting venues that exploit wild animals, including those captured from Taiji dolphin hunts.

GetYourGuide, a Berlin-based travel company that sells over 118,000 experiences in 150 countries, has recently been ramping up its US presence in order to expand its customer base. Currently, the company sells tickets to SeaWorld, fake elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, and the notorious Miami Seaquarium—a venue so cruel that the county of Miami-Dade recently terminated Miami Seaquarium’s lease due to animal welfare concerns.

While the United States does not have venues tied to the cruel Taiji dolphin hunts, GetYourGuide’s expansion into the US is a clear sign that profiting from dolphin slaughter and wildlife cruelty is simply part of GetYourGuide’s business plan.

Both consumers and the travel industry have the power to stop the wild capture and exploitation of dolphins. In fact, 79 percent of consumers in a recent survey stated they would rather see a dolphin in the wild than in a captive environment, and 38 percent said they would avoid travel companies that profit from selling venues associated with animal cruelty. It’s up to us as consumers to boycott GetYourGuide until it removes cruel wildlife entertainment venues and implements a progressive animal welfare policy. 

Take action now and demand that GetYourGuide remove its sales of wildlife entertainment venues, including those from cruel Taiji dolphin hunts.

Act Now

More about