Here is the true educational impact of dolphin captivity: Kids love the dolphin shows. They want to be trainers or aquarium vets so that they, too, can capture dolphins and show how much they love them. In the meantime, Playmobil makes its few beans by capitalizing, in between multiple aquarium visits, on the children’s love of this amazing creature.
Now, there are those who went to the shows as children and became dolphin advocates, but I’m not focusing on that itsy-bitsy minority right now. I’m focusing on the 99% of people (based on my personal observation of how many people go to the dolphin show, versus how many of us are standing on the sidewalks or in The Coves around the world trying to protect them) who continue to think that dolphins in captivity is natural.
The Georgia Aquarium and its ilk, including the garishly commercial SeaWorld chain and/or minion claim that dolphin captivity programs have an educational or conservation purpose (convenient, because otherwise it would be illegal in the United States to keep marine mammals in captivity). The actual text of the Marine Mammal Protection Act notes, however, that the aquarium industry, itself, gets to set those standards.
Thanks to Playmobil, those standards are clear for anyone, including the child that a parent unwittingly exposes to a most cruel and inhumane captivity industry, to see. The standards (I’ve paraphrased, if you will), plus a few
informal ones, are :
- Display the animals regularly (if you only do it once in a while the customers might stop coming).
- Make people think these dolphin tricks are “natural behaviors” even though our own training manual is about training “new” behaviors for the show. Don’t worry about the logic failure there. Just keep saying “behavior” over and over and work in “free” and “freedom” a few times, too, and keep smiling all the while at the paying customers.
- Train the dolphins to ensure that they do the trick, I mean behavior, during the shows for paying customers (it’s embarrassing when the tricks don’t play out). Tell the customers that even though dolphins don’t routinely jump through hula hoops in the ocean, they would if they could.
- Tell the paying guests that the dolphins are protected from mean predators that live in the wild, and don’t tell them that dolphins are at the top of the marine food chain and don’t really have predators.
- Keep the chlorinated water clean.
- Keep a vet handy for those annoying upper respiratory issues that seem to occur more frequently in the dolphins that we own than in the ones we haven’t caught yet.
- Whatever happens, keep on smiling.
The facts that the Georgia Aquarium does not reveal to their paying guests, during their educational extravaganza are:
- Dolphins in the wild swim to depths of 850 feet.
- The deepest tank we have is somewhere around 30 feet; the shallowest is 12 feet.
- Dolphins in the wild swim up to 70 miles per hour.
- Dolphins in the wild swim up to somewhere around 100 miles per day. They may do this just in a local area or they may travel for miles and back.
- The dolphins in our tanks can swim a few body lengths before having to turn around to do it again, over and over and over for the rest of their lives.
- Dolphins in captivity have an average shorter life span than in the wild, despite the position taken by the captivity industry.
- Many dolphin babies in captivity die in the first few days.
- Dolphin babies in the wild stay with their mothers and their extended families.
- Dolphin babies are separated from their mothers for the captivity industry (whether from wild capture/slaughter or from a dolphin breeder).
- Dolphins are trained with food deprivation. That’s right. These highly intelligent creatures know that food comes with doing the trick.
And don’t go to the dolphin show.
To let Playmobil know that they are teaching our children to disrespect the very animals that they love, and either knowingly or unwittingly contributing to dolphin captivity and slaughter, please contact them:
PLAYMOBIL® USA, INC.
P.O. Box 877
Dayton, NJ 08810
Voice: (609) 395-5566
Fax: (609) 395-3015
Customer Service e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Non-Customer Service e-mail address: email@example.com
Thanks to Amanda Faughnan for the foundation of this piece.