Who are the people who think it’s acceptable to keep dolphins and killer whales in captivity?
I guess it has to be those people who are making a lot of money from keeping them in dolphinariums and marine parks. It’s a broad guess but it has been estimated that between $1.1 and $5.5 billion is generated annually across the world from keeping dolphins and killer whales in captivity. This is serious income and greedy money-motivated business people at various levels in the captive dolphin and whale industry will not want to give up their money streams. But this income can be drastically diminished by the ticket paying tourists. All tourists have to do is not buy tickets to see them perform. Tourist enterprises could also stop promoting ticket sales to tourists and turn their back on this cruel and immoral form of entertainment. To be fair, there has been a change of public opinion, especially in some Western countries, but not enough to stop the exploitation of dolphins. Unfortunately in other parts of the world, dolphinariums are becoming more and more popular and the numbers are on the increase.
World Animal Protection have published a new report.
They tell us 336 facilities in 54 countries across the world are known to keep dolphins and in some cases, killer whales too. For those who are not aware, killer whales belong to the oceanic dolphin family. Therefore they are actually dolphins and the largest member of that family. Sounds incredible but 60% of these ‘facilities’ are found in just five countries: China (23%), Japan (16%), the USA (13%), Mexico (8%) and Russia (5%). It’s surprising that though opinion began to change in the USA after the film ‘Free Willy’ in 1993 and the more recent documentary “Blackfish”, there are still 400 captive dolphins forced to entertain the paying public.
In the UK in the 1970s there were 36 known dolphinariums and travelling dolphins shows.
The first dolphinarium in the UK and Europe was Marineland and was opened in Morecambe in 1964. In 1965 the US TV series ‘Flipper’ came on to our screens in the UK and across the world. We all became dolphin crazy and dolphinariums and marine parks sprung up in every major country. Hundreds of dolphins and even killer whales were captured and put in concrete tanks. They were taken out of the wild and trained to perform tricks to entertain the paying public. Since 1993 there have been no dolphinariums or Marine Parks in the UK. Why? Because various animal and environmental groups lobbied the government to research and review the plight of cetaceans held captive in “zoos and aquaria.” A Review Of Dolphinaria was published in 1986 giving recommendations for organisations keeping captive cetaceans to implement them by 1993 at the latest.
Is it illegal to keep dolphins and killer whales in captivity in the UK?
Actually there was never a law passed to make it illegal to keep cetaceans in captivity in the UK. Several reports from animal charities like Born Free and Whale and Dolphin Conservation exposed the dreadful conditions dolphins and killer whales were living in. This led to Born Free’s campaign Into The Blue which saw the closure of the last UK dolphinarium. The recommendations were so stringent regarding the size of the pools and other requirements needed for dolphins and killer whales to thrive in a captive environment, that establishments in the UK were unable to meet them. Add on protests, petitions, lobbying the government and people deciding it wasn’t right to buy tickets brought on the demise of dolphinariums in the UK. Theme parks went on to make money as rollercoasters and rides became more popular forms of entertainment with the public.
So why are there still 3,603 cetaceans in captivity across the world?
Perhaps the simple answer is that dolphin and killer whales provide a very lucrative industry entertaining people. Where there is money to be made then animals will be exploited. Hence dolphin and killer whale entertainment is just cruelty promoted as “innocent family fun”.
There are many, many reasons why dolphins and killer whales should not be kept in captivity!
From the day they are caught they slowly begin to die. In the oceans they live in socially complex family groups. They have the freedom of thousands of miles across the oceans to swim, feed, socialise and breed with the members of their pods. How can captivity possibly provide anything near their natural habitat. Kept in small tanks they are affected by the acoustics, by the chlorinated water, the dead fish they are fed only during training, the boredom, the relentless need to perform for entertainment and the depressive state that can overcome them which can lead to their ‘suicide’. It’s a dreadful existence for these beautiful cetaceans that belong in the open sea.
SO WHY ARE DOLPHINS AND WHALES STILL BEING KEPT IN CAPTIVITY IN THEIR THOUSANDS WHEN WE KNOW IT IS NOT ETHICALLY RIGHT AND PEOPLE ARE STILL BUYING TICKETS WHICH IS KEEPING THEM IN UNJUST IMPRISONMENT? WHO IS REALLY TO BLAME??? WHY IS IT STILL A GROWING INDUSTRY TODAY? WHO CAN HELP THEM? WE NEED ANSWERS NOW!