Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent creatures who want and need to live in complex social groups. In captivity they will usually have been separated from their families, often in cruel hunts and some when they are very young.
Wild whales and dolphins can swim up to 100 miles a day, hunting and playing. In captivity they have very little space and cannot behave naturally. A concrete tank can never replace their ocean home.
The mental, emotional and physical stress that a captive whale or dolphin suffers can weaken their immune system and make them prone to disease. Even though captive whales and dolphins are kept in an environment free of predators, pollution and other threats, they die young. The death rate for infant whales and dolphins is also much higher in captivity.
Captive whales and dolphins have been trained to perform tricks, day after day, for food as a reward instead of behaving naturally. When not performing, they are often kept in holding tanks smaller than show pools. Confining animals together that may not get on can result in stress and aggression with no possible escape.
Wild capture of whales and dolphins is brutal. Entire pods may be targeted and many animals killed or injured. Only the young and fit are taken. These are the future generations for these already vulnerable wild populations and their loss has a hugely negative impact on group dynamics.
We have no right to put these amazing creatures in captivity. Captive whale and dolphin shows are not education, or conservation; stress and disturbing behaviour is common amongst dolphins displayed in dolphinaria. Captivity is all about making money.
Dolphins are highly intelligent animals. In the wild they live in complex social groups. In captivity, dolphins live shorter lives than they do in the wild. This is significant given the fact that they are kept in an environment that is free of predators, pollution and other threats that they face in the wild. Wild dolphins can swim up to 100 miles a day but in captivity they have very little space in which to move around and so display unnatural behaviour. The captive environment can never replace their natural one.
All dolphins should be given the chance to show that they can re-learn the skills that would help them survive in the wild but in some cases this might not be possible. We would still like to see these dolphins taken out of concrete tanks, and show pools and instead put in a retirement programme in a more natural environment where they no longer have to perform tricks in shows.
No tank can be big enough as they can swim up to 100 miles a day and it is also impossible to replicate their natural environment in captivity.
While chlorine may help keep tank water looking clean, it may present a problem to dolphin health.
Whales and dolphins have been trained to perform these tricks. While they may relieve some of the boredom of being held captive, they would no doubt be happier if they could carry out more natural behaviour. During the show, dolphins are fed after every trick as a reward. They may perform simply for the reward of a fish.
Dolphins cannot move their facial muscles to communicate their inner feelings like humans so dolphins appear to ‘smile’ even when injured or ill.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that dolphin assisted therapy provides any long-term benefit to those engaging in it.
For many of the reasons given above. Dolphins in captivity live short, impoverished lives doing the same tricks day after day. They have often been separated from their families and forced to share cramped facilities with animals they don’t know. Europe has many fantastic opportunities to see whales and dolphins in the wild with a responsible boat operator.
The behaviour of orcas and dolphins is obviously constricted by life in a tank. Whales and dolphins are ordinarily intelligent, social animals that live in groups in the wild and carry out a myriad of tasks throughout daily life that are simply impossible in captivity. Most of the knowledge gained from carrying out research in the captive environment may not be applicable to the conservation of these animals in the wild.
Wild capture of dolphins is a brutal experience as entire pods are targeted and only the young and fit are removed. These are the future generations for these already vulnerable wild populations which has a hugely negative impact on group dynamics.
They are often kept in holding tanks which are smaller than show pools. Confining dolphins together that may not get on with one another can result in stress and aggression from which they can’t escape.
Dolphins are predators of fish and spend up to half of their time in the wild hunting. In captivity, they can not demonstrate this natural behaviour. Frozen fish is also supplemented with vitamins, minerals and even water, suggesting its nutritional value may be lower.
Captive dolphins in a facility often come from different regions and populations. Dolphins in captivity are often forced to live with other species that may have trouble communicating with one another, and may not get on with one another, including species that would never meet in the wild.
From many sources – some from the wild, some bred in captivity while others are moved between parks. For example, the orcas in Loro Parque in Tenerife are on loan from Sea World in the US. There is no institution within Europe that provides transparent access to information documenting the shipments of dolphins between European facilities, so information is hard to obtain.
Shows can take place several times a day but dolphins may not be able to rest when they are not performing. They are also involved in training sessions and health checks.