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How will cetacean captivity change?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by TheMightyOrca, 6 Mar 2015.

  1. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    In light of the Ringling Bros. circus deciding to phase out performing elephants, it's brought a lot of comparisons to the future of dolphin shows and possibly cetacean captivity in general, since there's still such a strong entertainment component with it. Obviously cetacean captivity won't disappear any time soon. They're still big attractions for many facilities, and even if all zoos and aquariums and theme parks suddenly decided to phase them out, we'd still be getting the occasional stranded or orphaned dolphin that can't be released into the wild. I'm mostly asking this question in regards to zoos and aquariums, but you can also address theme parks and resorts if you want. How might attractions and exhibits and such change?

    So, what do you think the future for cetacean captivity holds? I imagine that eventually, zoos and aquariums will probably start phasing out shows. Or at the very least, they might do education-oriented shows like lots of zoos do with birds, and those zookeeper talks where they tell you how they take care of the animals.
     
  2. Meilimonkey

    Meilimonkey Well-Known Member

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    I think as awareness grows about what actually goes on for cetaceans in captivity (I don't think anyone actually knows the whole story at this point), that aquariums along the coast, might start taking in cetaceans, as it becomes to expensive to care for cetaceans than those parks make in shows.

    So instead of just parks all across the world having shows to entertain guests, who would have aquariums with contained natural bays with cetaceans from these parks to educate guests.

    Its great that Ringling Bros. is phasing out elephants!
     
  3. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if there was more demand for *quality* seapen enclosures.

    I imagine shows will be phased out as the general public gets less comfortable with them, but for aquariums with dolphins, they're still often the #1 attraction so I don't think dolphins with disappear with the shows. There will probably be more of a shift to education for the dolphin exhibits. Mostly I'm curious about how exhibits might change to better stimulate and enrich them. Or, shoot, even from a visual standpoint to make the exhibits more appealing to guests. Without shows, will they change how exhibits look to keep them interesting?
     
  4. AverageWalrus

    AverageWalrus Well-Known Member

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    I would like it better if there were more Visualy Appealing cetacean exhibits. As seeing Naturalistic Exhibits is rarer than just the Concrete Bottomed Pool. I think the only ones Ive seen are the Dolphin exhibits at Sea World Orlando and Epcot
     
  5. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    For cetaceans (and arguably elephants), most important would be keeping them in large social groups. This naturally requires large pools.

    About pool design - bottlenose dolphins and killer whales, the two most common cetaceans in captivity, are distributed worldwide in both open and shore waters. So they don't seem to have any special needs of their environment.

    If anything, I would try acoustic enrichment for dolphins, and possibly let them switch on/off various sounds played in the pool by pulling a rope etc.. May be very interesting and is not logistically difficult or above mental abilities of cetaceans.

    It was suggested that smooth walls and filtration systems create noise, but I never seen any proof of it - which says much that claims about cetaceans in captivity are often based on author's imagination, rather than real knowledge of animals.

    About sea pens - they are vulnerable to water pollution which is a problem around most cities. Also quarantine of sick dolphin becomes impossible.
     
  6. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    If focus is placed more on large social groups, I wonder if small aquariums would phase out their dolphin exhibits.

    I always thought acoustic enrichment would be a good idea. Personally I've been wondering if there would be some way to rig electronic toys for dolphins. Like, some primates get enrichment from playing with iPads. What if someone could design electronic games for dolphins?

    Yeah, a sea pen definitely needs a good location. If seapens became the norm for permanent dolphin exhibits (I imagine that if this happened, tanks would still be used for medical purposes and holding) then large cities and possibly a lot of super touristy areas would be ruled out. (lots of boat noise = bad location!)
     
  7. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    You all might want to review more literature about bottlenose dolphin social structure. Large pods are not the norm for dolphins living in littoral zones.