There is no doubt in our minds that cetaceans, like dolphins and whales, do not belong in captivity. While SeaWorld is on the decline in the United States, in other parts of the world, it is still an uphill battle.

One particularly tragic example of how captivity impacts dolphins comes from an aquarium based in Taiji, Japan. Taiji gained notoriety when the 2009 documentary “The Cove” exposed the realities of the annual capture and slaughter of dolphins by fishermen in the Taiji cove. While some of the netted dolphins are killed for their meat, dolphins deemed “pretty” are sold into a life of captivity. Sadly, this is how Lulu the dolphin came to be on display at Nagoya Aquarium in Japan.

Advertisement

In late September, Lulu gave birth to a calf — an event that should have been a joyous occasion for the first-time mother dolphin. Instead, the infant dolphin was bitten, pushed, and finally, drowned by her mother. According to the International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP), aquarium officials attempted to explain away the incident by claiming that first-time dolphin mothers do not know how to take care of their young.

Lulu’s baby was just four-days-old when she passed away after being harassed by her mother. IMMP shares that in photos, the baby dolphin appeared to have  bleeding rake marks on her body, from her mother dragging her teeth on her skin. Although marine park officials may be quick to fault the dolphin’s inexperience for this tragedy, the real problem lies in the fact that this once wild female was forced into a stressful and highly distressing life in captivity.

In the wild, dolphins are fantastic parents.  Dolphin mothers spend years with their young, teaching them to swim, hunt, socialize, and all the ins and outs of being a dolphin that is wild and free. On the other hand, there have been other instances in which the young of captive cetaceans turned on their offspring, likely due to the fact that their own natural behaviors have been so sorely repressed in small tanks. We need look no further than the example of  an orca mother at SeaWorld who was too depressed to feed her young. What happened to Lulu’s baby is just one more example of why dolphins and all cetaceans do not belong in captivity. We are the ones who put them in this difficult position and it is only by taking a stand against captivity that we can work towards an end. Stand up for marine mammals in captivity by refusing to purchase a ticket to an aquarium and any venue that puts captive animals on display. Together, we can empty the tanks and prevent future tragic events such as this from happening.

Join the #EmptyTheTanks movement and share this article, encouraging others to boycott these cruel facilities.

Image source: vkilikov/Shutterstock