The New York Whale and Dolphin Action League

What's Wrong With Captivity?

The Aquacircus: Dolphins in confining chlorinated tanks far from the sea performing inane tricks for food, Orcas dancing in sync or splashing their jaded human audience with waves, being rewarded by gifts of dead fish, "Stupid Whale Tricks" and the ongoing mis-education of the public; a veritable gold mine for its operators, Dolphin-Assisted-Therapy (DAT) that preys on gullible people who pay up to $200.00 an hour to stand in a pool with a dolphin, hoping to be zapped with the mysterious much-hyped "healing" dolphin sonar.

What the Marine Park "Education" Programs Don't Tell You

Marine mammals' lives are tragically but predictably cut short after the obliterating act of removal from the wild. Because many die soon after capture, an over-quota must be "taken." Chlorinated tanks are unnatural, chemical-laden environments, expensive high-maintenance operations where proper care is more often second to ensuring that "the show must go on." Frequent deaths occur from simple but typical infections, disease and stress. Dolphins and Orcas have been known to commit "suicide" by repeated head-first crashes into their concrete prison tank walls. Chlorine-induced blindness, pneumonia and death by ingested garbage - everything from aluminum and plastic bags and candy wrappers to cigarette butts and rocks tossed by thoughtless spectators - these make survival tenuous. Death is so commonplace that every 7 years an average of 50% of all dolphins in captivity die and must be replaced. A high failure rate of captive births forces the money-struck industry to find replacement stock, at all costs. This includes funding the Japanese drive fisheries where hundreds of dolphins in a bay are "driven" by huge nets to the shore. Aquarium owners stand by, pick the youngest, least blemished of the lot (perhaps a half dozen or so), pay their captors 300,000 yen for each, and let the Japanese slaughter the rest. (Check out for video documentation.) US marine parks routinely and without hesitation illegally import wild-caught Orcas and dolphins that are channeled through offshore marine facilities that alter paperwork to disguise their wild origins. The greed-driven industry recently sponsored a gruesome roundup of reportedly up to 200 Indo-Pacific dolphins from the anarchist Solomon Islands. A water park in Cancun, Mexico, Parc Nizuc, hastily and illegally imported twenty-eight of these terrified and abused dolphins, in violation of CITES and Mexico's own environmental laws. The remaining are starving in shallow, overheated pools, their untrained captors unable to feed or care for them. To reason that the dolphins actually "enjoy" their captivity is absurd.

The worst of the vulgar captivity industry secrets is the real number of deaths and injury to both trainers and "swim-with" or Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT) participants. Although incidents are still grossly underreported, there are still enough serious injuries caused by dolphins and even deaths by Orcas on record that federal and even local protective governmental organizations should shut them down. (See and Yet unbelievably, the USDA has suspended regulations governing DAT programs.) Facilities constantly entice us with tales of cetacean "docility" and benevolence toward humans. In reality, in captivity, it is just not true.

There is so much money to be made by keeping dolphins and whales in captivity that the debacle has sadly become one of the biggest animal-exploiting businesses to scourge the earth. The industry is all too eager and willing to cash in on our fascination and love affair with whales and dolphins.

Make no mistake, cetacean exhibition is no fun for the cetaceans.

From HSUS: The Solomon Island Dolphins: The Myth of "Good" Marine Parks

PETA Fact Sheet: Marine Mammal Parks: Chlorinated Prisons

The New York Whale and Dolphin Action League
PO Box 273, Yonkers, NY 10707 USA
Phone: 914-793-9186
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A Project of Cetacean Society International

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