Tag Archives: A Fall From Freedom

Join in finding freedom from captivity – A New Show

Ric O'Barry

For years, Ric O’Barry and Hardy Jones have spoken out against marine mammal captivity.  They have pointed out in movies, such as The Cove and A Fall from Freedom, that whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity.  Recently a group of former Sea World trainers have created an interactive website, where they speak out about the life of captivity for marine mammals.

Mr. O’Barry, as a former and probably the world’s most famous dolphin trainer, learned from being with them on an ongoing basis, that training them to perform and keeping them in captivity was not an ethical undertaking.  He learned that dolphins in those settings can become dispirited and depressed.  He learned what Jacques Cousteau admonished, that

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.  – Jacques Yves Cousteau

In response to that realization, Mr. O’Barry and others have devoted their lives toward securing the release of dolphins and orcas from a captive, for-human-entertainment life.

Rehabilitate the captives.  Mr. O’Barry has suggested an ethical alternative for the trainers and the captive facilities, like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium.  That alternative is to provide real education about whales and dolphins by rehabilitating for a life in the wild the cetaceans whom the aquarium industry has captured or bred for captivity.  And making that the show. There are over 50 cetaceans at Sea World Orlando alone, and hundreds in the United States.  The international situation mirrors the United States one, with worse conditions than the meager protections afforded by U.S. laws.

Wouldn’t rehabilitation of former “performers” be a fine undertaking and a show that you’d be proud to attend?  And a wonderful memory for your children?  Of having been part of and been there on the front row of finding freedom for the world’s dolphins and whales.

You have, perhaps, seen the videos of dogs who had spent their entire lives chained to a post and then become free from that chain.  While dogs and dolphins are not an apt special comparison because dolphins are actually wild, undomesticated animals, watching even a dog experience freedom from a chain, unsuitable for its normal activity and range, may give us some sense of what an orca or dolphin, far more intelligent than a dog, would experience in the same situation.

We would need to be very responsible in that endeavor to release these highly intelligent mammals in a way that took into account their intelligence, their lifestyles, their instincts, their native habitat.  We could do that.  And if we humans are ethical and moral creatures, we will do that.

Rehabilitate the stranded.  After we succeeded in rehabilitating the captive-bred or captured dolphins and orcas, there would be ongoing work to rehabilitate whales and dolphins who strand, generally en masse, for reasons that still elude the human species.  Instead of finding reasons to retain the stranded, Sea World and the rest could re-focus the effort that they now expend in training for jumping, splashing, ball-throwing shows on caring for the stranded, locating the still-free remnant of the pods, and reuniting them.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to share with your children an experience of restoring a free life to these magnificent creatures?  As a comparison, if we desired to design a depressing life for dolphins and whales, we would wind up with a design like the current Sea World and The Georgia Aquarium.  Of course, that is not our desire.  That is, I feel certain, not the desire of the aquariums.  But the apparently willful blindness of the aquarium industry to the egregious, depressing life that they have designed for whales and dolphins is no excuse.  It is not an excuse for any of us, any more. We and they must step beyond the Mid-Twentieth Century mentality of dolphin and whale captivity.

The great news is that there is an alternative. An ethical alternative.  An alternative that will allow us all to participate in making a difference for life.  But we must together create that alternative.  How?

By being part of a demand for A New Show.

And, meanwhile, by taking a pledge not to go to the current one.  Be part of building an ethical outcome to the captivity dilemma.  Never again allow a dolphin to die as Jiyu, whose life will forever remind us that dolphins should be free.

Photo of Jiyu by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

Namaste.

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Whether the Georgia Aquarium dolphin shows are educational

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog on this topic, and if you had the great good fortune to have seen the videos in the blog, you would have seen first hand via video shot by a customer of the Georgia Aquarium that the Aquarium’s dolphin extravaganza was, shall we say, a little lean on educational value.

Seeing unvarnished home movies likely provides something a tad closer to the reality of the dolphin show than a highly polished piece that the Georgia Aquarium would put together as an advertisement.  Make sense?  It does to me, too.

Those home movies are no longer available, but since I want to continue to provide information and facts surrounding the Georgia Aquarium and dolphin captivity, it appears that I’ll have to rely at least in part on the G.A.’s own video.  But before I show you the video, let me set the stage a bit.  It may look like I’m straying off topic, but just hang with me.  I’ll bring it all home.  I promise.

In your mind’s eye, picture the strawberry pie on the menu at Shoney’s.  The big, center-posted picture on the cover.  With radiating smaller pics of fried chicken, Salisbury steak (both with a gravylike schmear), and maybe even shrimp, interspersed with various starchy concoctions, some with peas thrown in for color.

But the pie: the uber bright and shiny red of, not really the strawberries so much (yes, I think there were actual strawberries in there) as the goo that surrounds the strawberries.  The goo that jiggles, but not the same way that Jello jiggles.  Translucent, but again, not the same way that Jello is.  You know it.  More like  snot, really.  But darn red.  A mighty fine red, but one that you know isn’t real.  And this, this picture of the pie that is on the cover of the menu, that is now in your mind’s eye, with its perfect dollop of whipped cream, well, not real whipped cream, really, but some light and fluffy mixture of milk flakes, talc, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oil . . .  Crap.  I really didn’t mean to ruin that (open air quotes) whipped cream (close air quotes) for you.  Oh, who am I fooling?  You’re probably on your way to that single-use plastic container of Cool Whip right now.  (Are these people going to sue me for mentioning them in the same piece as the Georgia Aquarium?  Oh, I am just mean!)  Anyway.  Picture the pie.  The bright red goo.  The perfect dollop.

Flash forward to your having ordered it.  Now watch the pie as it approaches on the tray brought by the hard-working and underpaid (oops, slid into another social issue) waitress.  The reality is not quite as lovely as the advertisement.  The advertisement promised something that it didn’t deliver.

And by comparison, with that picture of the pie in your mind, that fake, fake, fake, fake, fake red of the pie that still somehow appeals to the inner 6-year-old-at-Shoneys-for-the-first-time, consider that the Georgia Aquarium is tinkering with that same appeal. The strawberry pie lie.  The reality isn’t what’s on the cover.  But what’s on the cover is what the restaurant needs you to believe so that you’ll order it.  So what does the Georgia Aquarium need you to believe?

I guess, first and foremost, it wants you to believe that the dolphins are happy.  Happy in captivity.  Happy that they are not in the ocean swimming freely with their close-knit community of family.  I guess there’s a lot they would like you to believe.  That dolphins live longer lives in captivity.  But there is also stuff they don’t want you to know.  They don’t want you know that the average life span of a dolphin in captivity is five years, when dolphins in the wild live far longer.  Or that the aquariums often give captive dolphins daily doses of medicines to control ulcers and intestinal and respiratory issues.  So you can probably expect a Georgia Aquarium online commercial to show you what it wants you to believe.  I expect you’ll see something that looks like happiness.  Jumping.  Splashing.

But what about the education part?  Surely they’ll highlight that aspect, too.  It is supposed to be central to the purpose of the dolphin show, right?  Education.  Right?

And here we are at the finish line, getting ready to watch one of the Georgia Aquarium’s own videos – one that it has placed on Youtube with all the agreements and consents that one gives when posting to Youtube – to see how it invites customers to come be educated about happy dolphins.

Soooooooo.  What did you learn about dolphins?  What do you expect to learn based on the Georgia Aquarium’s own enticement?  What education do the eleven dolphins who are held captive at the Georgia Aquarium provide to justify their continued captivity, held away from the open ocean for which they were designed?

To actually learn about dolphins and whales in captivity, watch A Fall From Freedom.

And don’t go to the dolphin show.

In the meantime, if you need entertaining, just take a gander at what we actually allow to entice us into believing that the food is good.  Or the dolphins happy.

This burger was made from happy cows, too!

Playmobil – Dolphin toys teach that captivity is A-OK

Accurate: Taken out of their natural habitat

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

Can you spot what's wrong with this picture?

informal ones, are :

  1. Display the animals regularly (if you only do it once in a while the customers might stop coming).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Keep the chlorinated water clean.
  6. 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.
  7. Whatever happens, keep on smiling.

The facts that the Georgia Aquarium does not reveal to their paying guests, during their educational extravaganza are:

  1. Dolphins in the wild swim to depths of 850 feet.
  2. The deepest tank we have is somewhere around 30 feet; the shallowest is 12 feet.
  3. Dolphins in the wild swim up to 70 miles per hour.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Dolphins in captivity have an average shorter life span than in the wild, despite the position taken by the captivity industry.
  7. Many dolphin babies in captivity die in the first few days.
  8. Dolphin babies in the wild stay with their mothers and their extended families.
  9. Dolphin babies are separated from their mothers for the captivity industry (whether from wild capture/slaughter or from a dolphin breeder).
  10. Dolphins are trained with food deprivation.  That’s right.  These highly intelligent creatures know that food comes with doing the trick.

Don’t buy your children this toy.  Watch a couple of documentaries about the truth of dolphin captivity.

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: service@playmobilusa.com
Non-Customer Service e-mail address: webmaster@playmobilusa.com

Thanks to Amanda Faughnan for the foundation of this piece.