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  • Bringing Kids to Dolphin Shows is Bad Education, Says Experts

    Holding dolphins in captivity for entertainment is not a good lesson to teach kids.
    by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag .
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    Trixie Conception, Regional Director for Asia Pacific of Earth Island Institute, said in a documentary showed during the press conference that dolphins trained to perform in dolphin shows are deprived of food for certain periods so that they would obey their trainers. Thus, these highly-intelligent creatures are not really happy to perform in these shows. They seem happy; but the truth is they are not. They only obey their trainers because they want to be fed and do not want to starve.

    O’Barry knows this very well for he used to capture and train dolphins in the past. He was the former senior trainer of the dolphins in the hit TV series Flipper. The death of the dolphin that often played Flipper, however, altered the course of his life. He believes that the dolphin Kathy committed suicide due to depression. The dolphin died while in his arms. From then on, he committed his life to freeing dolphins in captivity and raising the awareness of people of its ill effects. He founded The Dolphin Project and also sits as the Director of Save Japan Dolphins Campaign. Concurrently, he also works as a Marine Mammal Specialist at the Earth Island Institute. He is also the author of the book Behind the Dolphin Smile, and co-authored To Free a Dolphin with Keith Colbourne, which was featured in the controversial and award-winning documentary The Cove which exposed the yearly hunt, trade, and slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan.  

    O’Barry said that some of the dolphins who are captured in this cove are traded to countries like the Philippines so that these dolphins can be trained for dolphin shows and placed in ocean-themed parks. Dolphins who do not qualify for dolphin shows are killed inhumanely. He therefore shares this knowledge to the public wherever he goes so that people would know that they can help stop these practices in their own simple way.

    Experts featured in the documentary showed by Earth Island Institute during the press conference said that observing marine animals like dolphins and whales in ocean-theme parks will not really help students know these animals better because the animals are not in their natural environment, and therefore their behavior is not natural. They encouraged parents and educators to instead bring the kids/students to the marine mammals’ natural habitat for the students to better understand the real nature of these animals and their role in the ecosystem.  The best place for these wild animals is still in the wild, experts say. Scientific studies show that marine animals like dolphins have a shorter life span when held in captivity, due mainly to capture shock, exhaustion, and stress-related illnesses.

    O’Barry and other marine mammal advocates lauded Cong. Raymond Palatino for coming up with House Resolution 2759 which urges the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education to ban school field trips to theme parks with captive dolphins and whales that come from cruel and inhumane sources. He said that these parks target students and encourage school administrators to buy tickets in bulk to avail of discounts.  

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