Renowned activist Ric O’Barry implores India to strike down recent proposals to open captive facilities in the country.
By Laura Bridgeman April 27, 2013
Opposition to captivity in India has so far been vehement. Public demonstrations and campaigns have been accompanied by numerous anti-captivity stances assumed by major governing bodies.
In late 2011, the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forests condemned the Maharastra proposal, citing legal violations to the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Earlier this year the Animal Welfare Board of India issued an unprecedented nationwide advisory to all state governments against granting permission for captive dolphin displays. Just last month, the Central Zoo Authority has stated that it does not encourage the setting up of any captivity facilities in the nation.
These stances are supported by well-established indications that dolphin captivity is unethical and inflicts unnecessary suffering onto dolphins. Food deprivation, forced performances, and a complete lack of freedom contribute to significant stress and often premature death for captive individuals.
“The global captivity industry depends on its customers not knowing the truth about what goes on behind the bright lights and sensationalism,” says O’Barry, referring to the illusions that captive facilities construct in order to mislead customers into believing that the dolphins are “happy.”
The ethics of keeping animals captive for entertainment purposes is hotly debated around the world, with some nations already banning the use of wild animals in zoos.
However, the issue of keeping dolphins captive is particularly poignant since they are highly intelligent, emotional and sentient beings that are capable of great mental and physical suffering.
“Dolphins are very smart. They’re the only wild animal I’m aware of that regularly rescues humans who are in trouble,” O’Barry points out.
“They grieve for their lost offspring and companions. They have even been seen asking for help from humans. All of this shows their incredible sense of compassion and understanding towards others, yet we show them none in return when we keep them captive.”
O’Barry applauds Natarajan’s consideration of the ban on captivity, and hopes that she makes the decision that will save many dolphins from lives of suffering.
He says, “If even one captive facility is allowed to open shop in India, many more could follow. The demand for captive dolphins could skyrocket, which would negatively impact both wild and captive populations.”
Japan alone has more than 50 captive facilities, with most of these dolphins being caught from the wild during the infamous and bloody drive hunts in Taiji, Japan.
“The world is now looking to Minister Natarajan for leadership. Her decision to prohibit captivity in India will set a powerful precedent that could change the face of the animal welfare movement.”
Natarajan’s decision is expected within the next few weeks.
Follow dolphinproject.org for more details.
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Posted on Wednesday, 8 May
Tagged as: dolphins dolphin the cove ric o'barry the dolphin project japan india animal welfare exploitation wildlife marine mammal