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Born Free Launches Summer Campaign #DontBuyCaptivity to Highlight Plight of Captive Whales and Dolphins

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Born Free is urging people not to visit captive dolphin shows (photo: HildaWeges Photography / Shutterstock)

Today, 4 July and World Day for Captive Dolphins, international wildlife charity Born Free has launched a new summer campaign urging holidaymakers to avoid visiting marine parks with captive orcas, dolphins and porpoises.

Worldwide, there are more than 2,000 dolphins, 200 beluga whales and 60 orcas that are forced to live in cramped concrete tanks and perform demeaning tricks for human entertainment. In Europe alone, there are more than 280 captive dolphins, 10 orcas and three beluga whales housed in dolphinaria.

Using the powerful hashtag #DontBuyCaptivity, Born Free’s new campaign aims to highlight the plight of cetaceans in captivity and their exploitation for entertainment. There will be a host of exciting initiatives launched throughout the summer, including a one-day, highly-visual charity campaign on World Orca Day (14 July) where shoppers at Westfield (London, UK) and major shopping centres up and down the country will have the chance to help Born Free release life-sized orcas from their concrete tanks back to the wild.

Born Free will also be promoting powerful visual materials including the newly-released documentary Inside the Tanks that reveals the truth behind the captive whale and dolphin industry in Europe, and the short animation Stop Dolphinaria – Don’t Tell Me Lies (see the end of this article) – that focuses on three captive cetaceans living in Spanish marine parks.

Daniel Turner, Associate Director of EU Compliance and Tourism at Born Free, said: '#DontBuyCaptivity questions any justification for keeping whales and dolphins in captivity; highlighting the documented suffering of these animals in barren tanks. By buying a ticket to a dolphinarium, people are unknowingly supporting this exploitative industry that seeks little more than to generate profits. This summer, Born Free continues its campaign to end the exploitation of captive whales and dolphins for entertainment purposes; instead advocating the creation of seaside sanctuaries and alternative tourism experiences to view these intelligent, social animals in the wild. This summer please think twice before buying a ticket to a captive dolphin facility or zoo.'

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Many families enjoy dolphin shows but are unware of the conditions in which the animals are kept (photo: Arimag / Shutterstock)

Born Free first exposed the plight of captive dolphins more than 30 years ago. Since then, Born Free has contributed to the closure of the last dolphinaria in the UK, rescued and rehabilitated two bottlenose dolphins and ensured their release back into the wild, and co-founded the World Cetacean Alliance and the Dolphinaria-Free Europe coalition.

Holidaymakers can report animal suffering through Born Free’s Traveller’s Animal Alert, which investigates neglect, fights cruelty and works with tour operators, travel companies, foreign governments and other organisations to take positive action and help improve animals’ lives. Report online at www.bornfree.org.uk or phone the Traveller’s Animal Alert hotline on 0845 003 5960.

Holidaymakers can also sign a #DontBuyCaptivity pledge to avoid visiting captive dolphin facilities

Captive cetacean facts

  • 360 dolphinaria across the world keep approx. 2,000 dolphins, 230 beluga whales, 62 orca, 37 porpoises and 17 false killer whales
  • Majority of animals live in tanks that are a fraction of the size of their natural home range (Tyack, 2009).
  • Restrictive space can result in abnormal behaviour, heightened anxiety and aggression (Clubb & Mason, 2003)
  • Lack of environmental quality and complexity in the tank environment can cause abnormal behaviour, heightened anxiety and aggression (Couquiaud, 2005)
  • Limited social integration between unrelated individuals, often from different origins, can result in aggression, injury, illness and even death (Waples & Gales, 2002)
  • 'At a minimum, the maintenance of odontocetes [toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises] in commercial captive display facilities for entertainment purposes is no longer supported or justified by the growing body of science on their biological needs.' (Statement by 21 marine mammal scientists)
  • Captive orcas and beluga whales may die prematurely (compared to individuals in the wild).

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