Student given fail grade for refusing to visit captive dolphins

Jul 03, 2015 by afdadmin

Student sign cropped

Meet the Coffs Harbour High School student who failed a subject she was ranking first in, because she refused to visit a law-breaking marine park on principle.

A few weeks ago Australia for Dolphins travelled to Coffs Harbour to attend a protest at a controversial marine park called Dolphin Marine Magic. While we were there we met a lot of amazing and committed animal welfare advocates, including one incredible High-School student called Anna*, who was attending her first ever protest.

Anna is a high-achieving student with aspirations to work combating environmental, social, and animal welfare issues. She attended the protest at Dolphin marine Magic on her own –motivated by a strong moral conviction that keeping intelligent animals like dolphins in captivity for entertainment purposes is fundamentally wrong.

At the protest, Anna told us that she was ranking first in her biology class when her school set a practical component for the semester that involved visiting captive dolphins at Dolphin Marine Magic. Knowing that she would get a zero grade for the practical, remarkably Anna stood her ground.

“I refused to go to DMM for my Biology excursion as I completely oppose the notion of keeping animals in captivity for human entertainment,” she told AFD. “No living creature should have to live a life of slavery, and there was no way I was going to support a business that goes against so many of my values.”

Other young students at the DMM rally

Other young students at the DMM rally

Now Anna is engaged in negotiations with her school to cancel the annual visit to Dolphin Marine Magic all together. Nowhere in the syllabus does it suggest schools should visit marine parks, nor is it a requirement of the subject. She rightly points out that visiting Dolphin Marine Magic to learn how dolphins ‘adapt in their natural environment’ as part of a subject on evolution is inherently ‘ironic’, and counter-intuitive.

When asked what her ideal vision for the rehabilitation of marine life in Coffs Harbour would look like, Anna wants to see a system where the chain of captivity is broken, and animals can be rehabilitated in their natural environment instead of being used for entertainment. “I would love to see a sea sanctuary where dolphins, once treated, are able to live if they are unable to return to the wild,” she says.

Ideally, Anna’s vision is a model that Australia for Dolphins hopes to achieve. We are working with local marine rescue experts on the plan for a dedicated sanctuary for injured and stranded dolphins. A sea sanctuary would be a more humane home for the dolphins. Dolphin Marine Magic fails to meet NSW animal welfare standards, which is not ideal for the animals.

Protesters gathered in front of Dolphin Marine Magic to send a strong message

Protesters gathered in front of Dolphin Marine Magic to send a strong message

Anna’s fortitude in standing up against dolphin captivity, even when she knew it would adversely affect her grades, is inspiring. Taking it further and working with the school’s administration to end the visits and educate people about the cruelty of keeping dolphins in captivity shows true leadership skills.

If the next generation of dolphin welfare advocates are anywhere near as intelligent and committed as Anna, there is no doubt that cetacean captivity is on its way out.

*Note: the student’s real name has not been used in an effort to protect her identity.

Please, think twice before visiting dolphins in captivity.

Please, think twice before visiting dolphins in captivity.

  • Shazza Gregson

    You go girl!!! If all young people were like you the planets future would be secure. Well done honey x

  • Elaine Osullivan Mills

    well done young lady and thankyou xxxx

  • MaryFinelli

    Sincere thanks to this student and all who refuse to participate in the harmful exploitation of these prisoners, and especially to those who actively oppose it.

  • Ben Blankenship

    Great job standing up to your school. Your teachers need a lesson in humanity.

  • Afsaneh Rahmani

    Your dedication is inspiring.Kudos for a job well done,with love from Atlanta.

  • Pamela_Hryskiw

    You’re a HERO *Anna and please don’t ever change. Your teacher and your school system should be ashamed for not offering you an alternative to visiting a goofy and cruel version of finding out about cetaceans. I like to believe they’ll be embarrassed enough they’ll offer you an alternative to participating in the cruelty you so strongly and rightly oppose. x

    • chippy12

      agree Pamela. This incident sheds a revealing light on our corrupted, naplan mad “education” system.

  • MQH

    Dear Anna ~ I sincerely appreciate your decisive and positive action in taking your own stand against Dolphin captivity. Many thanks indeed from us here in Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada. We are working hard to have Kiska (a lone dolphin at Marineland, Niagara Falls) released into a sea pen with fellow cetaceans. I sincerely hope that Dolphins Australia and others you may know will be lobbying your schools board of directors over this “flawed” issue and that they
    will restore your Grades. In any event, remembering always, that this is merely a moment in time and your notoriety will follow you on into your future and you shall reap very positive results on account of your actions. Be blessed – fantastic effort and tell your friends we appreciate them too!

  • Sagi

    “Anna” is a leader and a visionary. Give her an “A+” for this assignment, she has more than earned it.

  • Helen Ford

    Well done, Anna*. Caring, intelligent, forward- thinking people, such as you, are EXACTLY what this cause is crying out for. It is the youth of today who are the key to the end of this unspeakable cetacean abuse in the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you… <3

  • Beth Madanelo

    I agree to Anna. Congratulations and success in your life!

  • Mark Caponigro

    “Slavery” and “enslavement” are the correct terms to describe the sorry lot, not just of these intelligent cetaceans, but also of the countless farm animals, sentient vertebrates including fish, birds and mammals, whom it has been traditionally acceptable to keep confined so long as pleases their human masters, a confinement ending of course with their being killed.

    “There is no happiness in slavery,” or even stronger, “Slavery is an injustice,” and it’s right and just to protest the institutions responsible for it: That’s true for dolphins enslaved to be entertainers, and it’s true for chickens, cattle, pigs, sheep, fish, enslaved to give us food.

  • Teresa Wagner

    God Bless You! Your school should be ashamed of giving you a failing grade. You are the hope of the future for captive cetaceans. Don’t ever, ever stop or give up your values and integrity about this issue.

  • Maria Endler

    You rock, Anna. 100% behind you! Aloha nui loa…^-^

  • Shauna

    Dear *Anna, you are truly a Wildlife Warrior and you can be very proud of your brave actions to highlight the plight of wild-dept dolphins at this facility and around the World. Your school should apologise and beg your forgiveness with a distinction for your assignment. They are missing a huge opportunity here to do good following your lead, and they should be totally ashamed of their childish actions. You are wonderful, and I applaud your courage and your dedication. Well done, sweetheart. Namaste’.

  • Gloria Chapple

    Bloody disgusting, why should she be punished for what she believes in ? Isn’t Australia supposed to be a democratic country – this is SHAMEFUL! Will pass this on to everyone I know, as aussies have shown their true colours! Bullies and hypocrites!

  • Michelle B

    What an amazing young lady. You shine as a light of hope for the future of conservation & people understanding our responsibility to share & respect this planet & the creatures we live here with. x

  • Joylene Steicke

    Oh, Anna, what a bright light in the world you are!! Thank you for being one brave young woman who stood up for what you believed in. It gives me hope that one day humans will understand that wild animals are not for our entertainment, but for us to leave then live their lives in the wild where they belong.

  • chippy12

    that “anna” will make a decent PM if she keeps this up. How could a so-called school behave so appallingly? Well knowing the australian education system as I do I’d have to say bloody easily, its not even second nature, its the way it is. I hope ‘anna’ doesn’t get too disillusioned too fast. I have a Theory, if you would like to hear it. Or not.
    My theory.
    Dolphin prisonworld gave a donation to the school. In return school is supposed to find some/any excuse for an excursion to the ghastly place. KampDolph is probably desperate for humans to march round pointing and giggling to make it look like a success. School bureaucrats likely see nothing wrong with the place, just wish they could run school same way!
    Last thing they want is some bolshie little animal libber (probably a femonazi too) refusing to play the game.
    Fail her for whole subject for missing one excursion?! Is there no Higher Power to call on? I bet there is, and that one’d be high paid waste of time too.
    Ah Australia, you clever country, you’ve never ceased to amaze me with how low you’ll go.

  • Fish_G

    Young lady, you are a hero.

    No other words for you.

  • ashley kujan

    Good for you, “Anna”!!! Shame on you, Coffs Harbour High!!!

  • Heather Woolley

    You are inspiration on a Global scale! Thank You for your stand against Animal captivity and that abuse of Marine Mammals.Don’t worry about one grade,test ,exam or the people at your school without your moral compass and convictions. Go ,protest,shout,voice for them,for us,for the Planet.EMPTY THE TANK’S! FOR THE OCEAN’S ALWAYS!

  • Eileen O’Rourke