Target: Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States
Goal: Demand an end to programs that allow guests to swim with captive dolphins.
Dolphins are extremely social animals. In the wild, dolphins live in pods that might contain hundreds of members, with complex social hierarchies and bonds between individuals. These animals can travel upwards of 100 miles a day, feeding on fish and other invertebrates they find along the way. However, in captivity, dolphins are forced to live in insufficiently sized tanks—sometimes 200,000 times smaller than their natural range—with only a few additional individuals. They are denied their natural instincts to hunt, and are instead fed dead frozen fish that lack the nutritional value of those they typically eat in the wild. The constant noise and activity around them is highly disruptive, since they rely mainly on echolocation and sound to communicate.
As if simply being held in captivity is not worse enough, these animals are also subjected to stressful situations in which they are forced to interact with humans on command. In the United States alone, there are between 14 and 18 swimming with the dolphin attractions, where people can actually get in the water with these captive animals. Enthusiastic individuals often partake in this seemingly harmless wildlife encounter without understanding the physical and psychological abuse that dolphins endure as a result. Dolphins in captivity often display behaviors unusual to dolphins in the wild, and have been known to repeatedly gnaw on or smash their heads against the sides of their tanks in an apparent display of frustration. Others have even been observed to voluntarily stop breathing altogether, drowning themselves in the process. Many of these captive dolphins are actually placed on ulcer medications or antidepressants to help alleviate some of the side-effects of the depressive episodes they seem to experience.
Even dolphins that are bred into captivity and not cruelly captured from the wild aren’t fully domesticated, and direct interactions with people can often cause them to lash out aggressively, harming humans or themselves in the process. In fact, swimming with the dolphin programs have reported a series of human injuries, including lacerations, broken bones, tooth rakes, and other internal injuries.
Swimming with dolphins and related activities push dangerous boundaries in allowing humans to directly interact with wild animals. Sign this petition to demand an end to these programs in the United States.
Dear President Biden,
Dolphins kept in captivity for human entertainment suffer immensely. These intelligent and curious animals are confined to tanks that may be up to 200,000 times smaller than their natural range, and are deprived of natural social inclinations. In turn, these animals become extremely depressed and exhibit extremely unusual, self-harm behaviors. Many dolphins in captivity are actually given ulcer and antidepressant medications in an attempt to curb the display of such behaviors, such as smashing their heads against the sides of their tanks and apparent suicide by way of voluntarily stopping their breathing altogether.
In the United States alone, there are still upwards of 14-18 locations that allow guests to partake in swimming with the dolphins programs. These programs are dangerous–not only to the emotional and physical health of the dolphins involved–but also the humans who participate. Dolphins, whether held in captivity or not, are wild animals and will always have the potential to harm humans. When forced into direct interactions with people, many dolphins tend to act aggressively and lash out. Among the injuries reported from such programs include lacerations, broken bones, tooth rakes, and internal injuries.
We are asking you, Mr. Biden, to please end these cruel swimming with the dolphins programs. You will be protecting both humans and dolphins in the process.
The diets of nine dolphins at Miami Seaquarium’s Dolphin Harbor were severely cut for the purposes of ensuring the animals performed better for guest interactions. What they got instead were multiple aggressive incidents against trainers, and even members of the public. These are the findings documented in an inspection report on the Miami Seaquarium by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dated July 6, 2022. According to the report:
diets for nine out of 12 dolphins at Dolphin Harbor were cut by a staggering 60%,
Star, a 23 year-old female dolphin went from being fed approximately 12 pounds of food daily to four pounds daily. Aries, a 20 year-old male dolphin went from being fed 13 pounds of food daily to three pounds daily,
the dolphins became emaciated, with prominent muscle wasting and palpable scapula and ribs,
gastrointestinal abnormalities amongst the dolphins began taking place, including multiple instances of excessive regurgitation.
Despite these concerning medical events, the Miami Seaquarium allegedly failed to provide direct and frequent communications regarding their animal health and well-being to the attending veterinarian.
The problems didn’t end there.
The USDA report identified multiple aggressive incidents involving the dolphins at Dolphin Harbor, when a dolphin “mouthed” a member of the public during an in-water interaction. Records show that the animals exhibited warning behaviors prior to mouthing such as sinking after performing behaviors, swimming over the ledge of the pools without specific direction to do so, fast swimming, terminating control (refusing to participate) during sessions, ignoring signals for behaviors and splitting from the session. Facility staff elected to continue guest interactions with animals that were exhibiting aggressive warning behaviors.
Some of these include:
Calypso, an 8 year-old female dolphin, mouthed a guest on six different occasions during the months of April 2022 – July 2022, yet, during the first incident, trainer records note that trainers “worked through” the inappropriate behaviors during that incident instead of stopping the session,
Cobalt, a 12 year-old male dolphin, mouthed a guest on six different occasions during the months of April 2022 – July 2022. On June 6, his fluke hit a guest during an encounter. On June 30, Cobalt mouthed a guest twice on the hand during the third encounter of the day and yet, was used in another encounter later that day. Before all mouthing incidents, Cobalt exhibited warning behaviors such as splitting from control and swimming towards guests in deep water. Since early April, his level of aggression during encounters has steadily increased, to the point where almost every day he terminates control from sessions.
The facility allegedly failed to handle their animals in a manner that minimized the risk of harm to the public and continued guest interactions even when dolphins were demonstrating aggressive behaviors earlier in training sessions. Mouthing any portion of an individual’s body (hand or foot) can be considered a precursor to more aggressive behaviors that ultimately may lead to serious injuries to the public.
In another inspection report dated June 2021, the USDA cited additional serious problems at the facility. Some of these include:
potentially placing incompatible animals together resulting in the injuries and/or deaths of cetaceans and pinnipeds,
poor water flow leading to an increase in bacteria and algae in several tanks and pools,
poor-quality fish fed to marine mammals which could result in illness and/or death,
reduction in food quantity, leading to possible malnutrition and dehydration,
insufficient shelter to protect the mammals from direct sunlight,
inappropriate and potentially dangerous routines demanded of Lolita, the solitary orca held at the facility since 1970.
Dr. Jenna Wallace, DVM, was a veterinarian at the Miami Seaquarium, briefly employed until July 2021. She was present at the time of a June 2021 inspection of the facility and has since been cooperating with the USDA in its subsequent months-long investigation. Since July 2021, Dr. Shelby Loos, DVM has been the facility’s attending veterinarian.
“Aggression, weight loss, regurgitation, and sinking can be abnormal in many scenarios. Each of these abnormalities warrant a prompt evaluation by a veterinarian. With this being said, In my professional opinion, I find it VERY difficult to believe that the “Attending Veterinarian” was not informed that some of the dolphins were only eating 3 or 4 pounds of fish per day. Significant weight loss, such as Cobalt who lost 104 lbs and Aries who lost 63 lbs, should be readily apparent on a visual exam and continually assessed by the “Attending Veterinarian.” If an animal regurgitated 137 times over 88 days, one would hope the veterinarian would have noticed at some point over a 3 month span! As veterinarians, we should be conducting regular visual and physical exams of the animals under our care on a routine basis.” ~ Dr. Jenna Wallace, DVM
Decades of dolphin exploitation
Despite there being a federal investigation of the Miami Seaquarium, Miami-Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava allowed the lease transfer to proceed. From a tweet dated March 3, 2022:
…to a statement issued on October 21, clearly, the mayor had a change of heart:
Miami-Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava released a statement on October 21: “I am deeply disturbed by the findings of the USDA report. Under the terms of the lease, the Dolphin Company is obligated to comply with federal regulations including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Animal Welfare Act, and we will be swiftly reviewing the report to determine whether the Dolphin Company is in violation of the lease.”
Miami Seaquarium, located in Miami, Florida, opened in 1955. Over the decades of operation, the dolphinarium has been cited for numerous animal welfare issues relating to their captive dolphins. At least 117 dolphins and whales have died under the facility’s care.
Lolita (also known as Tokitae) is the last surviving orca of the infamous Penn Cove captures of 1970. After capture, she was shipped to the Miami Seaquarium where she still remains to this day. Lolita has remained captive at the facility in the smallest orca tank in North America for over 52 years, and has not seen another orca in 42 years after her companion Hugo died in 1980. Miami Seaquarium has been promising to build Lolita a new tank since 1978. Despite Lolita being 20 feet long, her tank is only 80 feet across. Her exposure to the sun and weather violates Section 3.103(3)(b) of the Animal Welfare Act. Her tank is also 13 feet shorter than what is required by the Animal Welfare Act (Section 3.104).
Dolphin Project, for decades, has vigorously campaigned against the facility. While aquariums and marine parks will have you believe there is much to be learned from captive dolphin shows, the real education doesn’t begin until after the show’s over. Forced to perform and interact with other mammals day after day, held in small, sterile enclosures and lacking the ability to escape from the public eye creates an escalating cycle of stress and exploitation for captive dolphins. Depriving them of the vast open spaces and social bonds that they would normally have in the wild, and confining them to small concrete tanks to perform tricks for dead fish is highly unethical and inherently cruel for these complex marine mammals.
Cancel Miami Seaquarium’s Lease
Target: Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and Miami-Dade County Commissioners
Dolphin Project is asking the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners to cancel Miami Seaquarium’s lease.
Please join us by signing and sharing this petition.
To: Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and Miami-Dade County Commissioners From: [Your Name]
On March 4, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) formally approved the licensing requirements and facility improvements at the Miami Seaquarium necessary to facilitate the transfer of the Seaquarium’s lease from Palace Entertainment Holdings to The Dolphin Company.
The understanding was that this transition to The Dolphin Company, which brands itself as the largest park operator in Latin America and the number one dolphin company in the world would represent a critical and long-overdue opportunity for greater accountability, oversight, and scrutiny of the Seaquarium, including an emphasis on the health and welfare of all the Seaquarium’s marine inhabitants, along with a commitment to physical and operational improvements.
However, two inspection reports on the Miami Seaquarium by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — one from June 2021 and the other, from July 2022 cited serious problems at the facility. These allegedly include:
– severely cutting the diets of nine dolphins at Miami Seaquarium’s Dolphin Harbor for the purposes of ensuring the animals performed better for guest interactions, – visibly emaciated dolphins, with prominent muscle wasting and palpable scapula and ribs, – gastrointestinal abnormalities amongst the dolphins, including multiple instances of excessive regurgitation, – multiple aggressive incidents against trainers, and even members of the public, – potentially placing incompatible animals together resulting in the injuries and/or deaths of cetaceans and pinnipeds, – poor water flow leading to an increase in bacteria and algae in several tanks and pools, – poor-quality fish fed to marine mammals which could result in illness and/or death, – insufficient shelter to protect the mammals from direct sunlight
Despite these concerning events, the Miami Seaquarium allegedly failed to provide direct and frequent communications regarding their animal health and well-being to the attending veterinarian. The facility also apparently failed to handle their animals in a manner that minimized the risk of harm to the public and continued guest interactions even when dolphins were demonstrating aggressive behaviors earlier in training sessions. Mouthing any portion of an individual’s body (hand or foot) can be considered a precursor to more aggressive behaviors that ultimately may lead to serious injuries to the public.
As The Dolphin Company would appear to be in violation of the lease terms, we ask the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners to cancel Miami Seaquarium’s lease. In this day and age, Miami doesn’t need captive dolphins. Resources would be better spent protecting the wild dolphins that reside a mere 50 feet away, along with their habitats.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. —Soren Kierkegaard. "...truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity--it is simply true and that is the end of it" - Os Guinness, Time for Truth, pg.39. “He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
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