When it comes to the odd behavior marine animals in captivity exhibit, the organizations that keep them captive always seem to have an answer. When Morgan, a female orca at Loro Parque beached herself for 13 minutes, marine officials claimed that this was totally normal. Spoiler alert: it isn’t. Or how about that time that time at dolphin at the Sea Life Park in Hawaii floated motionless in a pool (clearly showing signs of psychological distress) to the dismay of attendees. Apparently, to marine park officials, that’s not a big deal either.

Just recently, a dolphin at SeaWorld Orlando leapt out from the water and snatched the iPad from the hands of a spectator. As per usual, the media is spinning the story as hilarious, calling the mammal “cheeky” and chalking up the incident to the fact that the dolphin clearly didn’t want any more pictures taken. Oddly but not all too surprisingly, SeaWorld Orlando hasn’t bothered to issue a comment about the incident. After all, how can they explain away this one? They trained her to do that? It’s completely normal for marine mammals to steal, they do it in the ocean too? Not likely.

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Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute explains it perfectly, “This incident underlines why petting pools are a very bad idea – dolphins can lunge out and hurt (bite, hit) people, grab things, INGEST objects that can harm them. Wildlife doing something like this in captivity is not funny – that the media see it this way and SeaWorld does nothing to educate people otherwise is precisely why captivity is NOT educational.”

We totally agree. SeaWorld can not possibly claim that this dolphin’s action is educational because this is not teaching anyone anything about how dolphins live in their natural habitat. If they had been left to live in peace in the ocean, there wouldn’t be humans there gawking at them with iPhones and iPads in hand. There wouldn’t be hands groping at them in every direction. There wouldn’t be a wall where there should be vast open space. Nothing about this “cheeky” dolphin is normal at all, and it’s certainly not funny either.

We can all help animals like this dolphin by refusing to attend marine parks. Dolphins are playful and intelligent creatures, it’s time to #EmptyTheTanks and allow them to get back where they play best – the ocean.

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