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TTC Special: Dolphin Rescue Operation

Photo: Roman Nedoshkovskiy/123RF

By Frank Martin

A report on animal’s treatment of “World Animal Protection” (WAP) suggests tourists not to confuse what a smile looks like when dolphins act for humans in shows around the world because the gesture does not mean they are happy.

The advice is the result of a critique of the organization against which it describes as the multi-million-dollar entertainment industry with the use of dolphins that “causes great suffering” to those sympathetic animals.

A data published by a Canadian digital magazine pointed that about 64% of Canadians surveyed have confessed that they have gone on vacation to destinations where tourism was offered with dolphins.

WAP’s criticisms seem blunt.

The main detail of these criticisms is that dolphins suffer “poor well-being” as a result of being captive.

The analysis emphasizes that the vast majority of public exhibition facilities that confine marine mammals, such as dolphins, “are not essential conservation or education resources” for humans.

“Millions of animal lovers each year are fooled into thinking that dolphin shows and dolphin swim experiences sold by the world’s largest travel companies are humanitarian, educational and conservation efforts,” the report titled Behind the Smile, said.

This reveals that 336 dolphin entertainment venues are operating worldwide in 54 countries, including the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and China, which confine at least 3,000 dolphins.

“For animals as social and intelligent as dolphins, a life in a concrete tank entertaining tourists is not life,” said Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director for WAP.

He said that “each ticket sold is an incentive for this industry to continue raising and capturing dolphins for a lifetime of suffering.”

However the report throws hope.

Specialists have proven that governments and travel companies “are beginning to respond to scientific evidence and public pressure against keeping dolphins in captivity.”

In Canada a last June passed legislation  prohibits breeding, display and trade of cetaceans (whales, dolphins etc) which makes this practice illegal for purposes other than research or rehabilitation.

Canadian companies have placed themselves at the service of that program, such as Transat and Air Canada.

Transat has stopped marketing  shows with captive marine mammals, including swimming with dolphins, in their vacation packages and air ticket sales.

On the other hand, Air Canada, Canada declared that at the end of August 2020 the company and its subsidiaries including Air Canada Vacations will no longer sell or directly promote packages or generate revenue from attractions that imply the captivity of current or future generations of dolphins. ”

Signatures have been added for trips such as Virgin Holidays, Trip Advisor and Booking.com