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Dolphins and other marine mammals - to zoo or not to zoo?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by manateacup, 2 Mar 2018.

  1. manateacup

    manateacup Active Member

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    I know, it's the endless discussion of marine mammals in captivity. I understand the arguments for keeping them in captivity and those against, I've just been wondering about the country to country divide on attitudes.
    I'm in Spain this week and have been looking at visiting Barcelona zoo but keep coming back to the dolphins. Does anybody know of their treatment in Spain? I can't image the UK having dolphins or belugas ect today, even the idea of manatees seems to have been dropped. Why is it that Spain has so many zoos with dolphins? Is it just culture, or laws or?
    Are there other countries where you also couldn't image marine mammals?
    I see less and less about captive dolphins being dangerous to be around (eg swim with), is this because less people are doing this, less of these experiences available or less media attention or?
    Are their any other unusual marine species present in zoos, I vaguely remember seeing a video of a pair of giant manta rays, perhaps in Asia?

    A bit of a strange ramble of questions! It's just something that's been on my mind the last few weeks. I can't quite decide if I want to visit Barcelona zoo for reason of its dolphins...
     
  2. Shellheart

    Shellheart Well-Known Member

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    I'll address what I can here. The UK itself is unusual, I feel. It's the only country I can think of where cetacean captivity is explicitly outlawed, and besides the UK itself\, I can't see any places (besides maybe extremely poor nations) where you wouldn't see dolphins in at least one facility.

    Your point about captive dolphins seems rather bizarre to me. I've never once heard that swimming with captive dolphins is dangerous, and in fact, there are many places that advertise the opportunity to do just that in North America, some of which have been open for decades. You might be thinking specifically of orcas when you say dolphins, but 99% of the time there is no danger in swimming with captive bottlenose dolphins.

    As for "unusual" marine species, that's a very long and subjective list, but I'd love to give a few examples. Manta rays in captivity are a thing, I know at least one aquarium in China (almost definitely more) displays the species, and the Georgia Aquarium in America has 3-4. Indopacific Humpback dolphins are found in a few facilities, Sea World Gold Coast (not to be confused with SeaWorld found in America) has Australian Humpback dolphins. Some facilities have attempted to keep goblin sharks, but the attempts don't last very long (Ditto with Great White Sharks). Quite a few facilities have Whale Sharks too, including the Georgia Aquarium.
     
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  3. Mayki

    Mayki Well-Known Member

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    I don't think there is actually a law in the UK saying cetaceans can't be kept. I think the reason nobody keeps them is because of the standards they have to be kept at which are simply not worth it for most zoos.
     
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  4. Welsh Zootographer

    Welsh Zootographer Well-Known Member

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    This is correct, there is no law against keeping dolphins in the UK, just strict standards to adhere to.
     
  5. Welsh Zootographer

    Welsh Zootographer Well-Known Member

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    There are, however, some countries that have banned keeping captive dolphins, these include Croatia, Cyprus, Hungary, Slovenia and Switzerland.
     
  6. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    To answer the question in the headline of this post: to zoo!!!!!!

    Don't point on this. It still hurts knowing that we have such profiling addicted politicians :(
     
  7. Merintia

    Merintia Well-Known Member

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    I don´t understand what do you mean about their treatment. About why there are so many dolphinariums in Spain, I think the reason is mainly that they are a great tourist attraction, and tourism is a very important part of economy here. In fact, if you look the location of the dolphinariums, most part of them are in coast areas, that receive the biggest number of tourists. Also, some of those dolphinariums are not part of zoos, but of water amusement parks.

    I don´t think less people are doing this, in fact, I think is the opposite... Swim with dolphin programs are offered on more dolphinariums each day (few years ago the closer place where to do this was at Zoomarine, in Portugal, but now at leats two Spanish dolphinariums offer the experience). I guess there is certain risk on this activity, but I never have heard it could be dangerous.

    That´s up to you... Barcelona have the worst enclosure for dolphins in the whole country, but they receive the best care and don´t performe "circus style" shows since years ago. All depends on what you consider acceptable I guess.
     
  8. The Speeding Carnotaurus

    The Speeding Carnotaurus Well-Known Member

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    Certainly to zoo
    I feel that the perfect dolphin habitat has not yet been reached, however, they are getting pretty close. I feel that people everywhere should have some chance to see these creatures and the easiest way to do that is through zoos.

    Shows are fine with me as long as they are educational.

    Regarding large and unusual marine animals some are a bit too needy (great white, goblin) and should not be in aquariums unless extremely necessary.
     
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  9. Okapipako

    Okapipako Well-Known Member

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    If I was forced to pick just one, I'd say "no". BUT, it's complicated for me. Generally my feelings range across a spectrum correlating to the size of the cetacean and whether in the wild they require immense tracts of sea that wouldn't be feasible to approximate in captivity. So I don't feel too good about orcas, the largest species in captivity. Belugas I think can be managed well but only in the rare occasion the funds and space are available. Smaller dolphins and porpoises have a lot more options.

    (also I assume we're just talking cetaceans? Sea otters, polar bears and most pinnipeds can fare well and I'm inclined to say manatees do too.)
     
  10. TheAmurTiger

    TheAmurTiger Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, porpoises are not well-suited to captivity. I have no clue about the situation in the Netherlands and Denmark where there are several captive Harbor porpoises, but at Vancouver Aquarium they were way too high energy for the exhibit they were held in. Dall's porpoises and vaquitas have been attempted as well, the exhibits are usually much too small for their needs. Finless porpoises don't seem to be as high-energy, and a lot of Asian aquariums have actually started a very well-managed breeding population, especially in Japan.

    I believe river dolphins are pretty tough because a.) they're hard to get your hands on since most of them died out in the 70's and 80's and b.) because of their VERY specific environmental needs involving sleep. As far as I know, Marineland Florida attempted to keep them and had issues with a particularly aggressive individual killing at least one calf, I think two were killed however.

    Plus, larger cetaceans just travel way too much in the wild. In my opinion, smaller dolphin species with less energy (such as bottlenose dolphins, Commerson's dolphins, and rough-toothed dolphins, definitely not Stenellas and I'm not a huge fan of Lags in captivity personally) are best suited for captivity.
     
  11. Berrnard

    Berrnard Member

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    I think that it all depends on the animal and the institution, for example, the Georgia Aquarium takes great care of their belugas, just like the Shedd Aquarium with its belugas and dolphins.
    If you have a large VERY LARGE pool, than you can successfully keep orcas, though Seaworld has none of these atributes and makes their animals perform 8 times a day so i don't consider Seaworld a good facility for cetaceans (Nor any marine parks for that matter).
    Obviously we don't have the capacity yet to house baline whales, only toothed whales and even then we can't house the largest toothed whale, the Sperm Whale.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2022
  12. Lafone

    Lafone Well-Known Member

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    It has broadly the same criteria for me as other large captive animals;

    *can the zoo / aquarium afford the inevitably large area for the animals to have a good experience and replicate at least some of the behaviours they would have in the wild and is there space on and off public display for them to do so, to use as they choose . Or is space not a priority or just ‘enough’

    *does their captivity aid conservation / preservation (via species preservation / breeding / reintroduction or education) or is the species kept essentially for little more than fun / performance money

    *can the animals live an ‘off show’ life where any training is simply to aid medical or other procedures and any ‘demonstration’ or handling / interaction which visitors can view is directly related to that training or is show the reason they are there

    *Is performing / forcing on show prohibited and so the visitor experience is not the ‘point’ of keeping the animal but visitors can see them when the animals are happy to be seen or is the whole point sticking the animal through a hoop 10 times a day

    I prefer the former of these conditions myself.

    As a lot of dolphins / large aquatic species exhibits don’t meet these in one way or another (small spaces, compulsory on show time, performance that’s clearly not just about training for management purposes etc) I don’t enjoy visiting them / supporting those so I don’t and I wish they were held in happier conditions or just not at all.

    In terms of equivalence I didn’t like performing lions in circuses, wouldn’t go to one and was glad when they were outlawed here, I don’t like aquatic circuses where show is the focus for the same reason.

    If a collection isn’t a circus my view is the same sort of values should apply as for land animals. If the conditions are right most aquatics could probably live in captivity. But the conditions are not always able to be honestly right.

    Appropriateness should be for a modern world, not a Victorian one.

    These are my personal conditions and it’s all about what we choose to visit / support ourselves at the end of the day. Too often in these debates on forums / social media people feel personally attacked if someone simply doesn’t like something they do. All I’d say is I don’t like a dolphins or other large aquatics kept solely to jump through hoops and earn money from doing so - that’s actually an opinion about the dolphins / others not a judgement on anyone who happens to find that sort of thing fun.
     
  13. Echobeast

    Echobeast Well-Known Member

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    I feel like a broken record with how many times I have to correct people on a zoo enthusiast forum that not SeaWorld nor any AZA facility are forcing/making their animals do anything. This language is total AR nonsense. I would think members of this forum would understand basic conditioning and how positive reinforcement is used and animals are never forced to do something they don't choose to do.
     
  14. Berrnard

    Berrnard Member

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    You know that to the animal (in this case the dolphin/orca) the trainer is just a food giver and if they don't do certain movements with their body they don't get food.
    Tis is like if someone trained their dog to do basic commands but if they do it wrong/don't do it instead of the dog not getting a treat they don't give their dog food.
    (this isn't true for all places, but a large part do this).
     
  15. Echobeast

    Echobeast Well-Known Member

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    Nope nope nope. The animals are not deprived of food. That is a bad way to train animals and no AZA facility does this to manage their animals. The fact you think the relationship between animal and trainer is just “food giver” shows you have little actual knowledge in operant conditioning and what the job of a trainer/keeper entails. If you actually asked the trainers and met them (which I have), you’d know that it’s a straight lie that they keep food from the orcas.
     
  16. Berrnard

    Berrnard Member

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    I was wrong and corrected it in my reply because this IS NOT TRUE FOR ALL PLACES but SeaWorld definitely tho
     
  17. Echobeast

    Echobeast Well-Known Member

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    SeaWorld is an AZA facility and I have literally talked with their trainers and seen how it works and I am a keeper at another AZA facility so maybe stop generalizing and get your facts straight.
     
  18. Berrnard

    Berrnard Member

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    They don't COPLETELY food deprive them, just that they get quite a bit less food (in certain places sometimes not enough food to fill their huger).
     
  19. Echobeast

    Echobeast Well-Known Member

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    Did I stutter? They don’t deprive them or give them any less food or care or anything if they don’t participate. Stop making baseless claims and shielding yourself with “not all places”. If you have proof this happens at SeaWorld then bring it out we’d love to see it.
     
  20. Berrnard

    Berrnard Member

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    I don't know about SeaWorld that much (only online sources including SeaWorld's website) but you have to remember that the US is not only place in the world there are many places like China , Argentina and other countries that do this