Cage by cage

On animals in captivity.

In regard to dolphins, I have seen first-hand the mutual bonds of love and interspecies learning that can develop between a dolphin and his or her trainer – an all too infrequently considered, awe-inspiring aspect of this debate. Couple that with the fact that dolphins in top facilities (which are often semi-captivity) tend to live at least twice as long as they do in the wild, providing opportunities for research that can lead to their betterment and survival, and could even contribute to medical inroads for human disease prevention, and the argument for the abolishment of all of these facilities becomes flimsy.

On the other hand, who can disagree with Animal Legal Defense Fund founder Joyce Tischler’s point in an interview with Daniel B. Wood in the Christian Science Monitor about Brancheau’s death, that keeping a killer whale in captivity is akin to keeping a human in a bathtub for the duration of its life? Orcas, actually the largest species of the dolphin family, can travel up to 160 kilometres a day when they aren’t restrained by the walls of a tank. On average, they tend to live half as long in captivity as they do in the wild, have great trouble successfully reproducing in the artificial environment, and are more likely to die in transit than to survive. These are but a few of the massive dilemmas researchers, keepers, and trainers face when caring for these animals.

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