Anti-Captivity Views
From Naomi Rose, Humane Society of the U.S. and  Ric O'Barry, Animal Advocate (Excerpted from FRONTLINE's full interviews)



Naomi Rose, Marine Mammologist, Humane Society of  the U.S.

The Humane Society of the United States opposes keeping whales and dolphins in captivity, for public display, for shows, because there's just no way that a facility can provide for these animals. Their environment is so alien to ours that in the end what you end up with, is a sterile environment for them in captivity.

They can travel 50 to 100 miles in the day. They can live for 40, 50, 60 years or longer, for killer whales. They live in family groups, they have a whole ocean, and a very very rich environment that the ocean provides and then what you do in captivity because of their health concerns and because of hygiene, you put them into a swimming pool, into a sterile environment, and it's the best we can do for them in captivity and it's just not good enough.

When you have them in a concrete tank, these are very acoustic animals which means that they rely very heavily on their hearing. We rely so heavily on our vision and on our sight, we can't really understand that. They have perfectly good vision but they're completely sonic creatures, their echo location, their passive listening is just far superior to ours. And so to put them into a concrete environment where it is very monotone and there's simply no variety, no texture, no substance, no depth to the environment why use their echo location, they know where the four walls are, it's an extremely limited environment.

There's nothing in the tank, there's no fish, there's no algae, there's no anything and so, it's not that they can't use their echo location in a concrete tank, it's--why use it? They know exactly the limits of their environment so there's no point to it and I think it's a terrible thing to take away from them.

And, as far as the complexity as I was saying there's just no complexity in a concrete tank. Even in a sea pen or at least the water is natural sea water and there's maybe a little fish or two swimming through the, the pen y'know because of the net that surrounds them, it's not concrete, even, even there, they are so restricted. There's four walls.

[Also] looking at the entire captive population, and then looking at some very well-studied wild populations of dolphins and whales, killer whales-- they don't compare very favourably. You're looking at for instance the annual mortality rate which is the best comparison, okay, looking at how long they live is not so good because, we think they live a lot longer than we've been studying. But we can look at them every year and see how many die every year. And in captivity for dolphins, that's about 6%. For killer whales it's about 6, 7% a year die of the entire population.

That doesn't sound like a lot but compared to the wild, a very well- studied population of bottle nosed dolphins, only about 4, 4 and a half percent die every year and for killer whales and other whale study population of killer whales in British Columbia only 2% die every year. So the mortality rate in captivity for killer whales is three times higher and that's the way you need to look at it, doesn't sound like a lot when you say 2%, 6%, but that's 3 times higher.

What's going on? What's killing these animals before their time? Females die routinely in captivity during their reproductive years. They never do in the wild. It's very, very rare for reproductive female to die in the wild; she'll die once she hits menopause, same thing. So something's going on in captivity, something is taken from them. It may even simply be something psychological, maybe they die of boredom, frankly. I mean we really couldn't say, stress, diseases they may not get, aggression between animals that wouldn't normally fight. But just risks and threats that they don't face in the wild. Eating coins, eating bad fish, things that might not happen in the wild. So something's killing them before their time in captivity, routinely.

Well in order to justify their existence, and in fact in order to avoid wild captures, which are very bad publicity-wise, a lot of the captive facilities, particularly the bigger, more well-endowed ones, are really pushing their breeding programs. And for bottlenose dolphins, they've had a pretty good success rate lately. And yet they are still not self-sustaining, even though they have a fairly large population in captivity that is breeding and you would think that they could be self sustaining. And yet they're still not so despite their claims that they're doing really well with their breeding programs for bottle nosed dolphins. I have to question it. Because they still are not self-sustaining.

Also, they claim they have a very good survival rate and they should of course, because of the intense veterinary care that's given when they give birth and in the first few weeks of the calf's life. And yet their um survival rate for calves is really not much better or in fact in some cases is worse than in the wild. So why is that? I mean, it's tough out there, in the wild and the mortality rate for for calves is very high. But it's about the same or maybe only slightly better and in some cases slightly worse, in captivity. Why is that? There's no predators, there's no sharks, there's no bad weather, there's no problems with food, there's intense veterinary attention, why can't they improve significantly improve, which they cannot claim on the survival rate of calves?

So again you have to ask yourself, what's going on? And in my opinion, it's not the calves' problem, it's the mother's problem, I think she's under stress...

I think the stress is constant, I believe there's a constant low-level stress put on these animals because of the confines of where they are, because of the limitations of their lives, socially, physically. I mean she's pregnant, and y'know, any stress is bad for a pregnant mammal, human, dolphin, dog, cat, doesn't matter. And I think that it doesn't help the survival of her calf that she's under that constant stress.



Ric O'Barry, Animal Advocate:
What's wrong with captivity? There's a lot of things and I'm not sure I can capsulize it but I'll try. It probably starts with the capture. It's violent, it's kind of like rape and I've captured many, many dolphins. That's how I started, capturing dolphins for the ... Aquarium. You chase them down to exhaustion. You separate mothers and babies. You take the young. We take the very best, incidentally. 80% of the captures are young females taken away from their mothers. How this affects the gene pool nobody will ever know. I mean the science of that is very, very questionable. The word science doesn't even come up when they're doing that and the National Marine Fishery Service doesn't ask them to prove that this is not having a detrimental impact on the environment because they work hand in hand - the captive industry and the National Marine Fishery Service. It's only when you want to put them back do they question the science.

But to answer your question: what's wrong with captivity? The capture, bring them into a concrete chlorinated box, reducing them to circus clowns and then selling this as educational to the public. And I think it's extremely dangerous. This issue for me is not just about the dolphins. There's about a thousand in captivity and it's more about the millions of people who go and see the show, go and see Shamu. They're learning, it is educational, they're learning, however, that it's okay to abuse nature. That's what they come away with that these - it only serves - the Shamu experience or the captivity experience only serves to perpetuate our insidious, utilitarian perception of nature and it's an issue about education. To teach a child not to step on a caterpillar or a butterfly is as important to the child as it is the butterfly. And that's what's wrong with it.

So any intelligent person who sees a trained dolphin show whether it's Shamu or Flipper or Keiko or whatever, would have to conclude if they were honest, that what they just witnessed was a spectacle of dominance. That's what's wrong with it. It teaches us that dominance is good. Dominance is right, dominance works and that's the problem.

...........There's no trick in getting dolphins to eat live fish. You know, when I used to debate with Lanny Cornell when he was at Sea World, he would say, well you can't teach a dolphin to eat live fish once they've been in captivity. He could teach them to catch a ball but not a fish. Something wrong with this picture here.

There's a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo and double talk and nonsense. It's a very simple thing. You offer them live fish and after a while they become interested in it. I used to have a small cage with live fish and I would put it in the pen with the dolphin. And just looking at it they would sit there for hours looking and jaw popping and using sonar and I guess they're thinking about live fish. A lot of it's mental, you know. I don't see any of that going on. What I see is a picture of a window and Keiko is on the other side and they've got these diamonds and squares and this mumbo jumbo about how you cannot train Keiko to become wild. That is not possible. The training is the problem to begin with. The training is the problem so the less training you do the better. You've got to take them to a natural sea enclosure and just leave them alone. Don't do anything. Just leave them alone. And again, habitat dictates behaviour. If the dolphin is in a concrete box -




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