Podcast
The Sad Truth Of Dolphinariums
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The Sad Truth Of Dolphinariums

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The disturbing truth behind your swim with the dolphins. Your desire to be with them — is killing them.

 

Voiced by: Bob Skinner

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Dolphins are beautiful, graceful animals, and their high intelligence and natural curiosity make them especially fascinating to humans. There are useful reasons to research cetaceans, but keeping them in captivity for entertainment is a controversial subject.  

The first commercial aquarium for cetaceans, called a dolphinarium, opened in 1938.
When people realized it was relatively easy to train bottlenose dolphins, it quickly became popular to keep them as entertainment attractions at marine mammal parks, zoos and other kinds of theme parks. Sadly, there was very little concern about the health and wellbeing of captive cetaceans.

There are no international standards regulating dolphinariums, such as the minimum size and characteristics. Many marine mammals suffer in small concrete tanks. In the wild, dolphins swim in hundreds of miles every day, so even in the largest of pools they do not have sufficient freedom of movement.

Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent animals, and in captivity they live impoverished lives, doing the same circus tricks day after day for the amusement of visitors. They are also sometimes forced to live in unnatural social groups, combining animals that would not get along together in the wild. This stress can result in shorter life expectancy and even aggressive behavior towards themselves and others.

Nowadays, many animal welfare groups consider keeping aquatic marine mammals in captivity to be a form of animal abuse. Several countries have banned dolphinariums and now prohibit keeping cetaceans in captivity. However, about 60 dolphinariums still exist in the world.