Category: Dolphin captivity

Celebrities should use their fame for good

Jan 17, 2017 by afdadmin
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By Michelle Helou Many celebrities have used their fame for good and supported the movement against dolphin captivity. Sean Penn, Cher, Ellen DeGeneres, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Ariana Grande are just a few on a long list. However, there are still celebrities who unfortunately continue to support the dolphin and whale captivity View full story

TripAdvisor’s dolphin-friendly policy change

Nov 09, 2016 by afdadmin
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By Hannah Tait The voice of animal advocate groups and the cries of animals in captivity have finally been heard by the world’s leading travel site, TripAdvisor. On the 11th of October, the most popular travel advice website made a massive policy shift. The company announced it would no longer be possible to book attractions View full story

Five lies marine parks want you to believe

Apr 15, 2016 by afdadmin
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In a post-Blackfish world, people are becoming increasingly worried about the health and happiness of captive marine animals. They are beginning to question the moral grounds of marine parks altogether. And rightly so. Marine parks tell us a lot of things in an attempt to persuade the public what they are doing is safe and View full story

The future’s calling: it’s time to help dolphins in captivity

Apr 13, 2016 by afdadmin
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You often hear talk about the elusive “younger generation”, and how it’s up to them to save the world. Lucky for us, there’s some pretty awesome kids around.  AFD had the opportunity to travel to Coffs Harbour recently, home of the controversial marine park, Dolphin Marine Magic. While there, we delivered an education program to View full story

The RSPCA doesn’t want you to visit marine parks. Here’s why.

Apr 12, 2016 by afdadmin
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The Australian Senate and the RSPCA have both expressed their concerns about dolphin captivity. Why? A growing body of science suggests that dolphins in captivity suffer physically and mentally. They may undergo stress, disease, and exhibit abnormal behaviour – such as constantly circling their tiny tanks, or bobbing up and down out of boredom. But don’t just take our View full story

Stop SeaWorld ruining the planet to build a bigger prison

Jul 23, 2015 by afdadmin
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SeaWorld has launched an all-out campaign promoting the construction of its Blue World Project in San Diego, which would expand the size of its current orca tanks. Although the marine park chain claims it is undertaking this mega-construction because it cares for its orcas, it’s clear from the marketing material they are more focused on View full story

United Nations condemns dolphin hunting

Dec 12, 2014 by afdadmin
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Article by Genevieve Wauchope for Australia for Dolphins. Last month, delegates to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) met in Quito, Ecuador for the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11). Over 900 delegates attended, a record for the CMS, which is an environmental treaty formed under the United Nations Environment Programme. There were a number View full story

BB dolphin in captivity

Knowing what we do about the detrimental effects of captivity on the well-being of dolphins and small whales, captive breeding can no longer be justified in the name of science, conservation, or human education and entertainment.

According to World Animal Protection, captive dolphins in artificial habitats are forced to swim in endless circles, interact with unfamiliar dolphins and other species, and perform behaviors that are unnatural and in some cases painful. They are also exposed to human infection, bacteria and chemicals, and suffer from a greater level of stress-related illnesses than their wild counterparts. Evidence of this stress can be found in the pilot whale that developed symptoms of psychoneurosis and deliberately head-butted the walls of its glass enclosure. Or in the multiple captive dolphins who suffer from stress-related ulcers, or have become mute.

Renowned conservationist Jane Goodall has publicly stated that on-site cetacean breeding is ‘no longer defensible by science’. In a letter to the Vancouver Aquarium asking them to discontinue the practice, Jane argued that such programs were plagued by high mortality rates and did not take into account the complex social and sensory lives of dolphins. She writes, ‘in captivity, these highly vocal and complex communicators are forced to live in a low-sensory environment, which is unable to fully meet the needs of their physical and emotional worlds’.

Professor Giorgio Pilleri, a Swiss cetacean biologist with the Institute of Brain Anatomy, argues cetacean behaviour in captivity mimics typical symptoms of prison neurosis in humans. It is ‘equivalent to the increasingly deprecated solitary confinement of man’. In addition, Pilleri contends that captive cetaceans display neurological signs of degeneration as a result of their limited environment, including a reduction in the size of their brain and atrophy in the specific areas responsible for controlling communication.

Studies such as those conducted by Dave Duffus, a professor at the Whale Research Lab at the University of Victoria, suggest cetaceans kept in captivity are also more likely to have problems with their digestion, teeth, and behaviour.

Considering the multitude of evidence presented by numerous similar studies, it is difficult to understand how humans can justify breeding such an intelligent and sentient species into an artificial world not capable of meeting its natural needs. It is certainly not done in the name of conservation, as most dolphins bred in captivity are from well-established species like bottlenose dolphins, which are not endangered.

The purpose of breeding programs is simply to maintain stock levels to ensure that sea-parks can continue to provide human entertainment.

The Australian Government has recognised the adverse effect captivity has on the mental and physical well-being of cetaceans for nearly thirty years. In 1985 the Commonwealth Government released a report titled ‘Dolphins and whales in captivity’. After considering arguments both for and against captivity, it comes to the conclusion that ‘cetacea in captivity have suffered stress, behavioural abnormalities, high mortalities, decreased longevity and breeding problems’.

The parliamentary report concludes ‘the committee is of the opinion that cetacea generally have paid a high price for the dubious advantages of captivity’, and recommends ‘the keeping of cetacea should eventually be phased out’.

Unfortunately, this recommendation has been largely ignored. Australian marine parks continue to breed whole new generations of captive dolphins knowing full well they will never have the opportunity to exercise their natural instincts within their rightful home – the ocean.