Not only does France have a brand new President, the country recently made the welcome move to abolish dolphin and whale captivity.
The decision was made after Environment Minister Segolene Royal, found out animals in marine parks were drugged, leading the minister to introduce an immediate ban on captive breeding.
The government even went a step further and introduced new regulations requiring captive pools to be made larger, while also prohibiting direct contact between animals and the public, including swim-with-dolphin programs.
This new legislation effectively means the cetaceans currently held in captivity in France will be the last.
Marineland has been the subject of mounting controversy since the death of two orcas at the park. One was captive-born Valentin and the other his mother, Freya, who died just four months earlier.
After severe flooding in 2015 Marineland’s filtration system shut down, leaving the enclosures to fill with muddy water. This led to the death of many animals including sea lions, sharks and turtles. The filthy water was also the likely cause of 19-year-old Valentin’s death, who reportedly died from “internal injuries”.
Before Valentin died activists witnessed him chewing the concrete side of his pool and purposely bashing his head against the tank wall. He also lashed out at trainers and other animals, likely in frustration.
This behaviour is not abnormal for captive killer whales. As these animals travel long distances in the wild, keeping them confined in tiny tanks is thought to bring on a kind of psychosis. Collapsed dorsal fins, aggressive behaviour, broken teeth and vomiting are all common.
While some marine parks argue human interaction can be “stimulating” for the animals, veteran SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove says, “Nearly every single killer whale regurgitated their food after we ended our interaction.”
Thankfully, France now joins a long list of countries including the UK, Switzerland, India and Finland, who have turned their backs on the cruel captivity industry.
As more people learn the inherent suffering involved with keeping sensitive and intelligent marine mammals in captivity, they are voting with their wallets. Since the release of the documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld’s profits and attendance rates have plunged. This demonstrates that raising awareness is crucial and that people will choose kindness over cruelty if provided with the facts.
Help ensure Australia is the next country to ban dolphin captivity by signing the petition, and signing up as an AFD Dolphin Defender to support powerful, strategic legal action against dolphin captivity.