Animal activism nor any activism of any kind can protect and save everyone. It’s a simple enough statement but a complex and challenging reality. But it’s stories like this one that reminds us that we can make a difference. Geumdeung and Daepo, dolphins who were illegally captured twenty years ago, were FINALLY released from Jeju sea pen to the wild.

The two indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins were illegally captured in 1997 and 1998 near Jeju Island in South Korea and have been in captivity since. Through the hard work and dedication of many — with particular shout outs to HotPinkDolphins, a marine mammal welfare organization based in South Korea — these dolphins are finally back where they belong. Their story is touching and one we should celebrate. After said celebration, there is still work to be done. No dolphins belong in captivity. They are one of the most intelligent and complex creatures on this planet and trapping them in tiny tanks is beyond cruel. It’s not hard to see, through their distressed behaviors, that they do not enjoy captivity, at all. And the “games” we think they play with their “trainers” are nothing of the sort. They’re forced to play and if not they are punished — how else do people think wild animals learn to do these completely unnatural things?

People are fighting hard for dolphins, all over the world. France has led the charge, banning dolphin and whale breeding and captivity (unfortunately, animals already in captivity may still remain in captivity.) It’s easy to get involved and help dolphins in captivity. The worst thing we can do is sit by and do nothing. The best thing we can do is fight to free more dolphins, so there can be more stories with endings like Geumdeung and Daepo’s.