Photos from World Animal Protection
World Animal Protection released a new report called Behind the Smile which reveals that dolphin “entertainment” is animal cruelty masquerading as innocent fun. Unsuspecting tourists are fueling this multi-billion-dollar industry, while travel companies are reaping the rewards.
Millions of animal lovers every year are led to believe that dolphin shows, and experiences sold by some of the world’s largest travel companies are cruelty-free, educational, and beneficial for conservation efforts. This could not be further from the truth. Rather, the industry is reaping billions of dollars in profits off of the cruel captivity of dolphins kept for entertainment.
“Many people feel excited when watching dolphin shows or when swimming with dolphins because they love animals, and the dolphins appear happy, but in reality, their smile is just a physical characteristic and not an emotional response,” Executive Director Alesia Soltanpanah of World Animal Protection U.S., said in a statement. “What these dolphins actually feel is cruelty and suffering from being held in captivity.”
The report, Behind the Smile, is the most comprehensive assessment of captive dolphins to date. It reveals that globally:
There are 336 dolphin entertainment venues in 54 countries, including the United States, Mexico, China, and many countries in the Caribbean, which hold at least 3,029 dolphins captive. The United States alone has 400 dolphins in captivity.
These captive dolphins annually generate a staggering 1.1 to 5.5 billion USD for the venue owners. This does not include additional income from merchandise, food, sponsorships, and accommodations that these captive dolphins generate.
Specifically, in the United States, Miami Seaquarium houses Pacific white-sided dolphins with an orca named Lolita. The tank in which Lolita resides is reportedly the smallest in the world for an orca and she has not seen another orca since her tank-mate Hugo died in 1980. The white-sided dolphins have been recorded routinely attacking Lolita; harassing, chasing and raking her with their teeth. Housing different species together in captivity, where there is no room for the animals to avoid each other, frequently results in increased aggression and discomfort.