Truth be told, I am certain many of you remember visiting a marine park as a kid. Some of you likely returned with your own children, eager to teach about the majesty of dolphins and other whales. And how cool was it, on a hot, summer day to get splashed by the tail flukes of a 4000 kg orca?
You were having fun, the audience was having fun, the dolphins must have been having fun too, right?
We couldn’t have been more wrong.
By definition, something is very wrong with attaching the concept of “entertainment” to “incarceration.”
Think about it: when you go to the movies, you’re enjoying a man-made work of art. When you visit a national park, you’re spending time in a natural setting. Aquariums and marine parks that keep cetaceans in captivity are neither: they aren’t entirely man-made as they are utilizing living creatures and no matter how technologically sophisticated, cannot possibly replicate the natural world from which they came. The concept of transplanting dolphins and other whales into controlled environments for our entertainment is ludicrous at best, and at worst, is a death sentence for them.
And then, there is this:
In Taiji, Japan, where dolphins are hunted for either captive selection or slaughter, our team of Dolphin Project Cove Monitors documented a transfer of a bottlenose dolphin. It’s commonplace once a mammal is captured to be shunted from tank to tank, or pen to pen, depending on the requirements of the facility. In this instance, after the dolphin was loaded into a sling, the agitated mammal kept popping up its head. Suddenly we see a knee belonging to a trainer slam into the dolphin’s head, presumably in attempts to keep it subdued.
VIEW THE CLIP BELOW.
That must have hurt.
How many other dolphins have been subjected to such treatment? For being afraid? For being stressed? Is this behind-the-scenes look at so-called “life” in captivity the norm for countless others, totally reliant on their trainers for survival? This doesn’t look like fun at all.
Dolphin Project has been educating on the realities of dolphin captivity for close to 50 years. And great strides have been made: several well-known travel agencies have stopped selling tickets to captive animal exhibits, countries such as Canada have made it illegal to keep dolphins and other whales in captivity and the list keeps growing. When tackling this issue, the first step is to collectively redefine our concept of “entertainment.” Another’s suffering should not serve as our amusement. The simplest way to stop supporting institutions that keep these mammals captive is to stop buying tickets to dolphin shows. Only then will dolphins be left to enjoy their birthright of living wild and free.
Featured image: Trainer physically subdues captive bottlenose dolphin, Taiji, Japan, credit: DolphinProject.com