Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski has recently collaborated with Born Free Foundation to shed more light on Indonesia’s traveling dolphin shows. The result of his trip to the country was a series of photographs documenting the everyday lives of the wild animals held in captivity, used for performing tricks, and made to live in the confinement of the travel pools and enclosures. Although apparently under permit from the Indonesian Government, the traveling shows’ workings are an obvious blow to the real nature and needs of the animals. The backgrounds may be colorful and the performances elaborate, but it is painfully clear that the animals in the pictures are completely out of place, and they deserve a better life.

Dolphins and other animals used in the traveling circuses, including sun bears and otters, are regularly shipped from one location to another across the country, Gekoski described while sharing the pictures in a Facebook post.

The dolphins are typically transported by being placed in stretchers and covered in lubricant. The animals need to repeatedly remain in those uncomfortable and distressing conditions, suffering extreme stress.

During the shows, they perform in shallow plastic-lined pools. The pools may be filled with artificial salt water laced with chlorine, which causes numerous health problems for the animals.

In the wild, dolphins can live up to 40 years. For dolphins exploited in circuses, that lifespan is drastically shorter – it is only around five years. If nothing else, this truly staggering difference should be a wake-up call to anyone.

“These are exceptionally complex and sensitive animals, perfectly adapted for life in the ocean. It is unbelievable that they are hauled like baggage from place to place as part of a pitiful traveling show, apparently under permit from by the Indonesian authorities,” said Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity for the Born Free Foundation.

“We are calling on the Government of Indonesia to put a stop to this once and for all, and to work with animal protection groups to find a long-term solution for the unfortunate animals who have been subjected to this abuse.”




Circuses are no place for wild animals, and traveling shows like those captured on the photographs add even more stress and suffering to the already bleak reality of a circus life. Born Free Foundation is asking for help in fighting for the rights of animals exploited in traveling circuses in Indonesia. You can do it by signing a letter to the Indonesian Government, urging the authorities to put an end to the traveling shows.

All image source: Aaron Gekoski, Environmental Photojournalist/Facebook