As a #TeamAnimals Ambassador for World Animal Protection I wanted to raise awareness on a very critical issue. The plight of Dolphins held in captivity and what you can do to help.
Seeing Dolphins in Dolphinariums and other sea life venues is something most people would love to do, and some even revel in the opportunity to be able to interact with them, with chances to buy tickets for excursions such as swimming with Dolphins, or seeing these aquatic mammals perform. These are often considered as a once in a lifetime or bucket list opportunity, and the perfect family activity. People choose to do this because they truly love Dolphins and most are unaware of the reality of this industry.
Travel companies such as the Expedia Group sell tickets for these excursions on the premise that these smiling Dolphins are happy, content and love participating in these interactive activities, and that you too would have much joy in doing them as the dolphins do.
You may think that Dolphins are smiling in the photo below….
Don’t be fooled – that is just the natural shape of their faces, and the truth behind that “smile” is often trauma, stress, mental illness, which includes self-mutilation, physical deformities and skin infections.
According to research by World Animal Protection, over half of travellers visiting Dolphin venues were motivated by a love for Dolphins. This demonstrates that although the vast majority of visitors (69%) are university educated, there is a clear lack of understanding around Dolphin needs and how life in captivity compromises those needs. The Dolphin’s ‘smile’ (a result of the shape of its jaw, not its emotional state) paints a skewed picture of life in captivity and contributes to the myth that captive Dolphins enjoy a happy life.
Ever wondered how Dolphins came to be at these venues in the first place?
Well let me tell you..in order to get Dolphins from the wild into captivity, Dolphins are usually separated from their mothers at a young age, which is not only traumatic for both parties but absolutely heart breaking for the mothers too. Imagine your child being taken away from you as a prop to earn profit from?
They are then confined to small tanks, which is totally unnatural and too little a space for them to be able to swim freely. Would you wish that on a small baby?
Finally, to train them so that you as the paying visitor can have that “once in a life time opportunity” to swim with them, or see them jump through hoops etc, they are deprived of food so that they can be trained effectively. Just utter shameless cruelty.
Their diets in captivity is not as nourishing as in the wild, and so leads to lack of nutrients which in turn causes illnesses.
What is more shocking is that right now, there are over 3,000 Dolphins all over the world suffering in captivity.
Dolphin venues make false or wildly exaggerated claims regarding their benefits to conservation, education and research, fooling the public into accepting the inhumanity of cetacean captivity.
However, when confined in those small inhumane concrete tanks, some dolphins never even see sunlight. The average size of large tanks measured was approximately 444 sq. m. This means that most dolphins only have a space slightly larger than a theatre screen. That’s over 200,000 times smaller than their natural home range.
According to a report by World Animal Protection, a single dolphin can generate between 400,000 and 2 million USD per year for a venue, depending on the frequency of use. This means that all captive dolphins in the tourism industry annually generate between 1.1 and 5.5 billion USD.
What can be done?
Both we as consumers and the travel industry have the power to stop the exploitation of dolphins.
Don’t buy a ticket!
We, by not buying tickets for excursions or holidays with the travel companies that promote them. The demand for it needs to stop in order to end the cruelty, and this means educating, raising awareness so that innocent people who think they are buying a ticket for an experience of a lifetime know the truth.
As quoted in a report by World Animal Protection:
It can’t be stressed enough that every ticket to a dolphin venue sold by a travel organisation and purchased by a member of the public contributes to the suffering of dolphins. Each ticket gives venues the economic incentive to breed and capture more dolphins, and each dolphin bred represents another 20 to 30 years of individual suffering – sometimes even longer. Like any other business, the dolphin captivity industry is based on supply and demand.
Travel organisations have to take responsibility for their role in feeding visitors to dolphinaria. Offering activities involving dolphins contributes to the public assumption that these activities are acceptable, and this must stop.
Many travel companies are waking up to the reality of the truth behind that “smile” and how unfairly dolphins are treated and have stopped selling tickets.
However, The Expedia Group is still selling tickets to these sadistic venues, and profiting from this cruel multi-billion dollar industry. According to a report by World Animal Protection, Expedia Group’s ticket sales to these facilities alone is enough to support the keeping of over 500 dolphins in inhumane conditions. They are therefore still a significant driver of the dolphin industry.
Now please sign the petition asking Expedia Group to stop selling, offering or promoting any dolphin shows or experiences HERE
All photos used are credited to World Animal Protection.