Most people know that dolphins are very smart, but did you know they are largely considered second in intelligence behind humans? They are one of the few animals that can learn new things throughout their lives, and then teach new skills to their young. Dolphins are also one of the few animals that create their own games, and, even cooler, they have been observed playing games with other sea creatures. In addition to this, dolphins are highly emotional animals who love and care for one another in a similar manner to people.

Despite all we know and love about dolphins, these animals are still frequently abused and exploited for the sake of profit and entertainment. Taken from the wild and forced to swim constant circles in a pool the size of a bathtub, captive cetaceans often exhibit abnormal aggression and repetitive behaviors. Many captive orcas and dolphins are extremely mentally distressed and resort to self-mutilation, vomiting, and even suicide attempts. But how do marine parks end up with these animals to begin with? Well, sadly, many are brutally captured from their homes and forced into a captive life. One example of this comes in the form of the Taiji dolphin drive. This annual drive takes place in the infamous “cove” in Taiji, Japan, where hundreds of dolphins are herded from the ocean and either killed for their meat or captured to be sold. Once they are captured, these animals are relegated to sea pens where they are trained and prepped for life in captivity. As the below photo shows, these intelligent, emotional and social beings are then degraded to learning meaningless tricks.

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This photo, shared by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, shows an abhorrent scene in Taiji where a Risso’s dolphin is being forced to learn silly tricks. 

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If dolphins could speak our language, how likely is it that they would tell us they love being held captive and performing inane tricks? The heartbreaking photo above displays the reality for so many captive cetaceans: deprived of everything that would give their lives a sense of depth and meaning in wild, left at the mercy of humans, and forced to perform tricks that do not come naturally to them (the threat of withheld food is often used to make them do this). With the momentum against whale and dolphin captivity growing by the day, there has never been a more urgent time to call for those tanks to be emptied, once and for all.

To learn more about why you should boycott any aquarium or marine park that holds dolphins and whales in captivity, read the articles below. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family to help raise awareness of the issue!

Image Source: Ric O’Berry Dolphin Project/Facebook