Recently, a local media reported that Ocean Park, in order to
compete with the about-to-be-open Hong Kong Disneyland, has submitted a
proposal to the Government for buying 33 species of animals, including
the pink Chinese White Dolphins.
Kong started to show pink dolphins, places in Mainland China and
Southeast Asian countries would follow suit. This would lead to
unsustainable catching of dolphins from the wild; the result could be
devastating to the already endangered populations. Ocean Park may
disguise it as a breeding programme, but decades of experience all
around the world has proved that captive breeding simply doesnˇ¦t work.
is wrong with captive breeding?
Leverett, Founder of Hong Kong Dolphinwatch: ˇ§The other argument against
captive breeding is that you have to have a genetically viable
population, or you end up mating fathers with daughters, brothers with
sisters, etc. Capturing 10 won't do it. There were worries that the
wild population in HK, at a hundred or so, wouldn't be enough.
Capturing that many Sousa chinensis from the wild would be a severe blow
to their chance of survival, all for a risky, untried scheme. Not to
mention the point: where to keep them all?
Captive breeding has
all sorts of barriers:
- capturing them
without injuring them or their children/parents
- keeping them alive
(they killed about 30 Inia geoffrensis (the other pink dolphin) before
they figured out that they need shallow parts of their tanks where they
can lie on the bottom with their blowholes above the surface)
- getting them to mate
- bringing them to term
successfully (note problems in that place in Thailand)
captive-born dolphins to the wild
- re-integrating them
into a social structure
Few of these problems
have been worked out with bottlenose dolphins, and we've had decades of
practice. We are still capturing them to maintain our captive stocks.
Why? because captive breeding has failed. It may work with some other
species, such as birds or amphibians, but dolphins have a different set
Parsons, George Mason University, USA:
ˇ§Sousa is on CITES appendix I - so international trade should be limited
because of fears of depletion in wild populations if live captures were
to start (if Ocean Park showed Sousa, then it's only a matter of time
before facilities in China/Vietnam/Thailand) start the same.
Because the population
is so fragmented, if you were doing captive breeding then you would have
to have animals all from the same population (otherwise
stocks/sub-species may be interbred) ˇV an important consideration is
also the behavioural aspect - any newborns would have to be taught all
the appropriate foraging skills that animals would need in the wild, or
else you will never be able to release the animals - ever.ˇ¨
IN THE WILD
Dolphin can live up to 40 yrs
die within the
first 3 months
Orcas live up to
Average life span =
Hunt for and eat live fish
Hand fed dead fish
Live in complex social structures, staying with family their
Often isolated in barren tanks, many suffer from stress. Some
Swim up to 50 miles/day, and dive to depths of 500 feet.
8-foot dolphins can legally be confined in 24x24foot tanks, only
6 feet deep.
Live in ocean's salt water
Live in chlorinated, treated water
Use sonar to "see" and to interact
Unable to use sonar because of sound bouncing off tank walls. A
hall of mirrors.
Can reproduce every 2-3 years starting at age 10-12.
of captive calves are stillborn
Average number of offspring in a lifetime is
Captive breeding is very poor. Average number of offspring is
less than 1.
Captive dolphins perform unnatural "circus" tricks, beg for
food, and/or give rides to be fed.
Many dolphins died
while being captured and their deaths are hidden from officials and the
public. Another reason the total numbers of such deaths may never be
realized is that ancillary kills are not recorded. For instance, in
Japan, a dolphinaria may contract for 12 dolphins to be captured. Pools
of as many as 80 dolphins may be rounded up, in order to choose the 12
most suited for capture. When the 12 are selected for shipment to a
dolphinarium, the rest are often killed. Nonetheless, the numbers are
staggering. The premature death of these animals cannot be denied.
value, as so many of the facilities/parks/zoos like to talk about, is
nil. What are they teaching? Are they simply teaching it is all right to
take the lives of animals so long as a profit can be made?
Chinese White Dolphins
(Sousa chinensis) in captivity:
So far no where else
in the world is keeping the pink Sousa chinensis in captivity and
showing them except Singaporeˇ¦s Sentosa Underwater World. However, the
pink dolphins there have not been doing too well, please take a look at
the following news report:
2001 March 23: Singapore -
Another of Sentosa's pink dolphins dies
ˇ§Singaporeˇ¦s Sentosa Underwater World's dolphin captive breeding
programme has been struck a third blow in the space of six months - a
miscarriage, the death of a newborn and now, the death of an adult
five pink dolphins left at the Underwater World after the death of
Namtam, an adult female. She succumbed to a stomach inflammation. .
pink dolphin about 20 years old, miscarried last September and nearly
succumbed on March 5 to acute gastritis, or inflammation to the stomach.
born on Feb 18 died within 15 minutes of its birth.ˇ¨
The pink dolphins in Singapore are bought from Thai fishermen who donˇ¦t
have the knowledge and care to handle the animals less cruelly when
catching them. Because of this trade, the wild Sousa chinensis in Thai
waters have been unsustainably caught, seriously depleting the
population. Do we want Hong Kongˇ¦s pink dolphins or those elsewhere
suffering the same? Should we further endanger those lovely yet already
seriously endangered pink dolphins by permitting more capturing from the
wild which will inevitably kill many during the catch and cause those
captured to suffer a depressed existence in captivity?
Kong Dolphinwatch Ltd is strongly against buying/catching wild pink
dolphins and have them kept in captivity. Please help to support our
petition to prevent this irresponsible act by
petition letter and sending it back to
us. Thank you!
You can also write to: The Director, Agriculture, Fisheries,
and Conservation Department, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices,
303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Fax: (852) 2730-3256
Read more about the cruelty behind captivity.
The following is from the
CAPTIVITY IS NEEDLESS
1. With a
If the experiments
done on captive dolphins in captivity are considered essential for
what we know about them, the same psycho-physiological or
ethocognitive research could be undertaken perfectly well in a
natural environment, without constraints, without pain, in direct
cooperation with the subjects of the experiment.
wild dolphins (see the work of Denise Herzing) moreover represents
an inexhaustible source of discoveries that are infinitely richer
than laboratory data. The study of their behaviors and their
communication systems has only just recently begun. We know nearly
nothing about most cetaceans.
2. With a
discovering the marvelous complexity of cetacean life, dolphinariums
do the contrary by making children believe that the dolphin is a
"spectacle", an "object for amusement", a "domestic animal" gentile,
subservient and as loyal as a dog, like we see on the television
Dolphin shows emit
a clear message: "Nature voluntarily submits itself to Man and even
the most liberated beings in the world, the least likely to be
maintained in captivity, belong to us and we make them dance for
To say "hello"
with its flipper, to nod its head like a human, catch fish in the
air, hold itself straight up moreover reinforces the idea that the
dolphin tries to imitate us with a charming awkwardness. In return,
no show lets us see the multitude of its social behaviors or hunting
techniques, nor the prodigious finesse of its echolocation. To
really see how a dolphin swims it must be seen out at sea.
CAPTIVITY IS CRUEL
elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans are all mammals that
have a very high cognitive potential. Their life expectancy is
important and all benefit from an extremely prolonged childhood,
during which their parents charge themselves with their education
and transmitting their proper savoir-faire.
They are thus
"cultural beings", living in the "third world" (Popper & Eccles,
1989) that interweave their rules of relationships, social identity,
language, esthetic emotion, filial attachments or friendly and moral
values such as altruism, encouragement of talent or the sense of the
common well being (F. De Waal, 1995).
In the context where the regard of another builds and reinforces the
sensation of existence, isolation is felt as a serious punishment.
For man, life
imprisonment often replaces the death penalty. When this isolation
becomes total - for example, in solitary confinement -
hallucinations happen very quickly, then complete dementia and death
observation teaches us that chimpanzees and dolphins demonstrate
exactly the same reactions as we do under the same circumstances.
For them also, it is inconceivable to live far from others, far
from the world with which they are familiar.
A chimpanzee is
only a TRUE chimpanzee when it is in the forest, surrounded by its
group, of behaviors and that it earns in this manner its proper
However, for these highly encephalized cetaceans
beings, no form of captivity, no cage, no special facilities, no
pool, even Olympic-sized, will ever replace the simple pleasure of
living free in the wild.
In no way could
the captivity imposed on dolphins replace the fantastic sensorial
and social diversity that they know in the natural environment.
Enclosure is for them, particularly, a treatment of extreme cruelty
that comes to reinforce the measures of discipline imposed on
stubborn dolphins (rationing and isolation). We remember to finish
that these "combats to death" don't exist in the ocean, even if
certain conflicts are sometimes resolved in a violent manner.
What the captivity people want you to believe and what is really
The debate over
whether or not captivity kills or is merely a means of sustaining
the species continues. Pro-captivity people often use the education
as the reason they favor captivity. In reality, it is but one thing
that motivates the owners of dolphinariums and aquariums. It is not
education of our youth, but money. Here we hope to explore what the
captivity industry would like you to believe and spend tons of money
trying to get you to believe it. The simple fact of the matter is:
EXCUSE NUMBER ONE:
Dolphins in captivity live longer than dolphins in the wild.
Dolphins lifespan is shortened by nearly 66% in captivity.
EXCUSE NUMBER TWO:
Dolphinariums do important research
which will help the dolphins in the wild.
Removing a dolphin from his family
environment does nothing to help them live longer in the wild.
Dolphinariums exist solely for the purpose of making money.
EXCUSE NUMBER THREE:
Captive breeding can help to save an
endangered species from extinction.
Captive breeding has failed. The
reproduction rate is far lower than that in the wild and those born
in captivity animals are rarely (if ever) successfully released to
the wild, they live like prisoners all their lives while our seas
get emptier with wild species continuously being caught for captive
information on captivity, written by
a dolphin captured?
capture of dolphins is a violent procedure. Pods of bottlenose
dolphins are chased to exhaustion; surrounded with a net and dragged
onto the capture boat where the capture team searches through the
terrified group for the specimen they want. The lucky ones are
thrown overboard. Those selected are taken ashore. They will never
see their ocean world and their pod again.
to dolphin captors, the most desirable dolphins are between two to
four years old and still associate with their mothers. Many
bottlenose dolphins have been brutally separated from their calves,
regardless of the fact that a bottlenose dolphin normally protects
and remains with her calf for at least five years. The violent and
permanent separation is a traumatic experience for both mother and
calf, and while the exact number of animals killed during the
capture procedure remains unknown, we have documentation to show
that dolphins have died from shock during capture.
captivity of dolphins help dolphin conservation?
In order to justify the capture and confinement of dolphins, the
dolphin captivity industry and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks
and Aquariums (AMMPA) present the dolphins as "ambassadors" of their
own species and maintain that captive dolphin displays serve the
purpose of being educational. They are not in this business for the
money, they say. They want us to believe that they capture and
confine dolphins in order that the paying audience learns to
appreciate dolphins and, based on that, grows motivated to
contribute to the protection of dolphins in nature. But how can the
spectators learn anything about the true nature of dolphins when the
captive dolphins are trained in unnatural behaviors, mere circus
tricks that these once-wild, opportunistic foragers of the oceans
are performing for food rewards of dead fish? And how are the
spectators supposed to become aware of the importance of preserving
dolphins in nature when the dolphins they are watching have been
either stolen from nature, kicking and screaming, or were born in
captivity and have never seen the ocean?
no scientific evidence to support the claim that the capture and
confinement of wild animals helps conserve them as a species.
Humpback whales are appreciated and protected by people who have
never seen a humpback whale. On the other hand, the elephants and
tigers are on the brink of extinction today, despite the fact that
these animals have been displayed in zoos and circuses for thousands
world's first formal dolphin show opened in St. Augustine, Florida,
in 1938, hundreds of dolphins have been captured from the wild and
trained to perform silly circus tricks. When the dolphins died, the
captivity industry captured more. These are disposable dolphins for
our disposable society, and to call them ambassadors is simply an
obviously desperate attempt at sanitizing the exploitation of these
What is the positive educational value of captive dolphin displays?
Educational is the buzzword most frequently used to defend the
capture and confinement of dolphins. The irony is that while the
captivity industry's strongest justification to use dolphins in
dolphin shows and dolphin swim programs is the alleged wish to
educate the public about the importance of preserving dolphins in
nature, the same industry refers to the fact that bottlenose
dolphins are not threatened by extinction to defend the position
that it is okay to capture them. It is precisely this utilitarian
view of nature and its inhabitants that has destroyed wildlife
everywhere on the planet. The capture, confinement, and exploitation
of dolphins works against the spirit of wildlife conservation in
that it cherishes human dominance over nature, leaving the public
with the fatal message that turning wild animals into performing
circus clowns and pets is permissible.
of dolphins is a form of education, but itˇ¦s a form of bad education
in that it teaches millions of people, of whom many are
impressionable children, that abusing nature is acceptable, as long
as you can call it research, education, or therapy.
Is captivity stressful for dolphins?
Dolphins have evolved over millions of years, adapting perfectly to
life in the ocean. They are intelligent, social, and self-aware,
exhibiting evidence of a highly developed emotional sense. Imagine
the panic dolphins must experience as they are yanked from the
ocean, forever separated from their ocean world, their family, and
their ability to swim freely.
these complex, large brained animals through a violent capture and
lifelong confinement in a small tank or sea cage inevitably exposes
them to trauma and stress. Even people who work for the dolphin
captivity industry admit to the fact that confining a free-ranging
marine mammal in a restricted area has a negative impact on the
welfare of these animals. Dr. Sweeney has said the following:
ˇ¨Husbandry problems of marine mammals in captivity often come
directly from exhibiting animals in a closed environment.ˇ¨ (Marine
Mammal Behavioral Diagnostics, in L. Dierauf (ed.), Handbook of
Marine Mammal Medicine. 1990, Boca Raton, CRC Press.)
Malox, and other kinds of stomach medication are commonly used to
treat captive dolphins for stress related complications. The US
Marine Mammal Inventory Report (MMIR) will show many examples of
stress related deaths.