Every now and then, a video of a captive animal and a young child interacting with one another goes viral, attracting many comments about how “adorable” and “cute” the situation is. It is true that a child will nearly always be overjoyed to get up close to an animal they may previously have seen only on TV … but this comes at a heavy cost to the animal’s wellbeing. Captive animals of all species have frequently been witnessed displaying abnormal stereotypic behaviors while trapped in zoo or circus enclosures. These can include swaying from side to side, restless pacing, excessive vomiting, head wobbling, self-mutilation, and unpredictable bouts of aggression.

Videos that aim to demonstrate how “sweet” it is when a child gets up close to a captive animal – however cute they may be on the surface – perpetuate the myth that captivity is good for the animal involved. This is the case with a new YouTube clip shared by a channel called ViralContent, which shows a toddler and a dolphin playing with a ball together.

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Dolphins are extremely sensitive and intelligent creatures. In the wild, they live in tight-knit familial pods and remain close to their loved ones all their lives. They have an incredibly complex, sophisticated system of communicating with one another while the distance they travel each day can range from 40 to 100 miles.

In captivity, however, the natural instincts of these animals to hunt, play, be with family members, and enjoy their freedom are totally disrupted. Even the largest marine parks can provide dolphins with only 0.0001 percent of the space that would normally be available to them in the wild. Dolphins who are confined in such environments have been recorded displaying signs of boredom, depression and anger … and have even, in especially tragic situations, been known to take their own lives.

The child in the video above may be enjoying his experience with the dolphin, but he is sadly not coming close to understanding how these beautiful animals live when they are in their natural habitat. For more information on why you should never visit a marine park that holds dolphins captive, read some of the articles below.

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