One of the central issues dividing Seaworld and millions of people around the world is the idea of keeping the orcas, aka killer whales, captive for entertainment. What Seaworld doesn’t seem to understand, or want to admit, is that many people don’t believe dolphins belong in captivity. I say dolphins, because although they are commonly known as killer whales, orcas are actually dolphins.
What about all the other animals in zoos, being used for research, testing, and enslaved while they wait to be eaten by us humans? Yes, what about all the other animals, and if we take it a step further, people enslaved for sex trafficking? For the purpose of this blog, I am going to stay focused on dolphins.
Why should dolphins not be kept in captivity?
Research done by scientists for years, such as that done by Dr. Diana Reiss, shows that dolphins are not just big fish. They are mammals-intelligent and emotional beings. Dolphins kept in captivity are stressed. The pod structures are damaged in captivity and the wild when they are torn apart as is the case, all too often, in Taiji. Dr. Marino argues that while humans enjoy the interspecies encounter in dolphin swims programs, dolphins find it stressful.
Is it ever OK to keep dolphins in captivity?
This boils down to an ethical debate. I, for one, propose that in a case such as the famous dolphin, Winter, whose tail was amputated after getting caught in a crab trap, it is best to keep her in captivity. She now relies on a prosthetic tail to swim. Dolphins who require medical attention by humans may be kept captive for rehab purpose and then released. If release is not possible, then providing a humane, alternative environment for them to live in would be acceptable.
This allowance, however, gets tested when the said dolphin is worth huge sums of money in captivity, as is the case with Morgan. Morgan is an orca who required rehabilitation. Rather than being returned to the wild with a plan created by thirty experts, she was shipped to an aquatic entertainment park.
The dolphins in the news today are generating debate on social media amongst millions of people worldwide. The Dalai Lama himself recently tweeted, “All beings want to live in peace and happiness, undisturbed. Therefore the concept of human rights is universal.” I couldn’t help but wonder if this was his answer to the dolphin captivity debate.
What are your thoughts on this issue?