The captivity of animals for human spectacle has always been troubling to me.
As a child, after a trip to the zoo or aquarium. I always felt sad. I got to go home after a long day, be with my family and get into my own bed.
However these animals in captivity are trapped in these man-made facilities… ALL THEIR LIVES!!
According to Richard O’Barry, dolphins have large extended families and swim over 64km per day!! No concrete tank or artificial lake can ever replicate this freedom and interaction.
O’Barry feels responsible for the commercialism of dolphins in captivity as he trained the 5 dolphins in the television show Flipper.
Keeping animals in captivity causes mental, emotional and physical stress that could otherwise be avoided. The unnatural activity of “swimming with dolphins” adds to this stress.
Furthermore, the process of capturing these animals is highly crude; targeting pods and then only selecting the young and fit.
The dolphin’s smile is natures greatest deception- it creates the illusion that they’re always happy – Richard O’Barry
There are many ethical dilemmas involved that I have not covered. As for any debate, there are two sides to the argument.
Having animals in captivity fosters awareness and education in future generations. It also has the capacity to protect precious species.
However, when dolphins are being so crudely captured for humans to swim with, we need to show the industry that we do not support it!
Thus, the role of documentaries, such as The Cove, in opening the arena for discussion is really important.
The future looks rather bleak for dolphins in captivity, however if less visitors demand such activities this will tell the industry that their actions are not supported.
As smarter travellers, we have the choice of activities and encounters we experience. Places and spaces are continually changing and we will face different ethical dilemmas wherever we travel to.
Research to find alternative options may require looking elsewhere, but at least your conscience will be clear! 🙂
[Travelling smarter tip #3 Respect the environment by opting for more animal-friendly activities in their natural habitat e.g. licensed and chartered dolphin-watching tours.]