Apparently the “A-list” dolphins kept at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and the Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas not only have a yoga instructor, but also their own personal soundtrack, reports Radar Online.

The bottle nose dolphins are a part of a larger collection of animals held at the Mirage, including white lions, white tigers, panthers and leopards. The hotel offers passes to see the animals and to “explore, learn and play,” according to the Mirage’s website.

But what exactly are people learning about these animals? Truly nothing of educational consequence can be gleaned from viewing animals kept in captivity for entertainment purposes. At its core, captivity is unnatural as it disrupts the normal dynamics and behaviors of wild animals and forces them to be confined to a very small area that can in no way adequately serve as a replacement for their wild habitat.

People may “ooh and ahh” at captive animals, learn a quick fact or two, but what’s ultimately cemented in many minds, perhaps unconsciously, is that these animals are here for our entertainment and that captivity is okay.

There may be an argument for captivity in regards to conservation and rehabilitation purposes, but places like the Mirage are not interested in this work—they’re in the market for profit, which is what they’re raking it in from providing “programs” with these wild animals, most of which are dolphin-centric.

The hotel offers standard passes to see the dolphins in their enclosure and also “Painting with Dolphins,” “Trainer for a Day” and “Yoga with the Dolphins.”

Yoga instructor, Willow Withy, hosts the hotel’s dolphin yoga sessions where participants enter in a windowed room at the dolphin enclosure. She reports, via Radar Online, that the dolphins “appreciate the music.” Radiohead and sitar music by Anoushka Shankar have been noted as their favorites. They are also fond of The Beatles and Pink Floyd, according to XFM.

“As soon as I put [the music] on, they come up to the window and their play patterns become more fluid, friendly, and they are curious about what is going on in the yoga room. They rub against the windows, walls, and express more sensory connection. It feels like mutually shared experience as they appreciate the yoga and music together. I would say they are happy,” said Withy via Radar Online.

“The levels of oxytocin released by humans around the dolphins is off the charts,” Withy also stated to Radar Online. “The science backs that up and I feel the work I do really is oxytocin therapy. It is strange how I feel they can sense when I am having a good day or bad day because their behavior is connected to me.”

These highly intelligent beings may enjoy the vibrations from the music that they feel through the windows (the speakers are not in the pool), but simply because they have shown positive reactions to it does not mean their captivity is justifiable and can be labeled as something beneficial to the species. This program is designed to benefit humans, not the dolphins. And that’s where the real problem lies.

Wild animals continue to be held captive against their will, but they do not exist for our purposes. They are not our toys, our pets, our trophies or “A-list” attractions.

When will the world realize this? When will we finally release our animal prisoners?

Image source: Berthold Werner / Wikipedia Commons