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Dolphins Are Nearly as Clever as Humans

Written by PETA | January 8, 2010 / CC


In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the dolphins know to leave Earth before the planet is destroyed—and it looks like Douglas Adams was on to something.

No, the planet isn’t in immediate peril (depending on your definition of “immediate”), but dolphins really are geniuses, second only to humans in intelligence, according to a new study.

This study revealed that the brain cortex of dolphins has the same complicated folds associated with human intelligence, and it has the scientific community buzzing. Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, argues that dolphins (i.e. “non-human persons”) deserve rights and “qualify for moral understanding as individuals.” PETA couldn’t agree more! And because we wouldn’t force our relatives to live in cages tanks, we’re writing a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service, asking it to place a permanent ban on issuing permits allowing dolphins to be captured and used as attractions at theme parks and resort hotels.

Dolphins are thoughtful animals with distinct personalities, and each dolphin has a strong sense of self. They think, plan, and communicate with one another. In the wild, they spend their entire lives in large groups; removing them from their natural communities is traumatizing and often results in stress-related illness and premature death. If we don’t start treating our cognitive cousins with more respect, in the end we might really be left holding that note that reads, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Written by Logan Scherer

Commenting is closed.
  • Himisama says:

    I just watched The Cove and feel ashamed of the human race for what is happening in Japan. If PETA has any ways I can help be more informed about this crisis I would appreciate it very much. Thank you.

  • caterina Benello says:

    Dolphins but also all other creatures deserve to live the life they are born to. Who are we to decide the destiny of other creatures?

  • lynne says:

    Agree with Ash all living creatures have more intelligence and awareness that we can understand. Just because they are constrained in a certain lifestyle and havent developed as humans have does not mean we should underestimate their thoughts feelings and wisdom.

  • ash says:

    All living creatures have intelligence and who are we to grade them ? Cheers

  • Diane says:

    I think dolphins are cool. I think they are so cool my firdt tattoo was 3 dolphins jumping towards the sunset in the ocean. Not a cage or tank

  • Salali says:

    Animals? Humans? Pretty sure I’m not a plant. Each species is “smart” in their own way. A dolphin can instantly calm an autistic child the child’s parents never can.

  • PASALANA says:


  • carla says:

    Grace.. that IS the problem… Dolphins and animals are not treated like humans are THANKS TO humans. Human beings need to wake up and realize that animals are NOT ours!!!!!!

  • Brien Comerford says:

    Intelligent dolphins don’t torture maim lacerate and sadistically kill other creatures like humans do.

  • casey says:

    It is disgustingly arrogant to speak of a fellow being as being “nearly as intelligent as a human” first off how can you ignore the facts that out of all humans non humans environmental we the humans have done more unnecessary cruelhorrific and evil destruction annihilation than any other species?so to say that another being is almost as intelligent us humans is an insult to that being.Non humans have shown more humanity stoicismkindness and wisdom than most humans.I often loathe the way your group aids in continuing the thoughts that non humans are below the humans.All this leads to animal cruelty.Please do some research since your own natural “wisdom” has not kicked inI encourage you to read the books of Joan Dunayer.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    I just finished watching “The Cove” which was awarded to me by PETA as a Win It Wednesday prize. Everybody needs to see this film it is both shocking and stunning. The Empire of Japan is up to it’s old tricks not that I ever believed for one minute it ever changed it’s ways. This is a country so enmeshed in it’s traditions of abusing the enviornment and all of it’s inhabitants including people that not even two atomic bombs in less than a week really adjusted their attitude…they just hid it for awhile. I wish the dolphins going near that country during migration could be encouraged somehow to alter their migration pattern so as to avoid Japan. Perhaps the Sea Shepard and other boats could do what the Japanese fishermen do create a sound barrier away from the Japanese fishing waters. The only other thing that might work is economic sanctions against Japan but we have managed to make ourselves so dependent upon their products that might be an impossibility.

  • Domino says:

    Humans are clever? Shouldn’t this be “humans are nearly as clever as dolphins?” I love dolphins and all creatures for that matter I hate how humans feel superior though.

  • Brandon Becker says:

    This comment left on the article at is worth reading Lori Marino wrote As one of the scientists mentioned in this article I would like to clarify one of the statements made. The work Ive done on dolphin brains shows that when relative brain size is taken into account some dolphin species are second only to modern humans and have larger brains than chimpanzees. However I do not think we can declare that dolphins are the second smartest animals on the planet on the basis of just this information. I do not want to make categorical or hierarchical statements about matters that are clearly too complex to warrant a simple interpretation. The point of our upcoming session and arguments is this. Given what we now know about dolphin brains and intelligence we need to rethink our accepted cultural standards of treatment from slaughter to capture to confinement in amusement parks. The scientific evidence is clear that the suffering imposed by these activities on dolphins is on a par with what humans would suffer under the same circumstances. That is the message of the article. I want to add that sentience should be all that is required to be regarded as an equal member of the moral community. No sentienbe being deserves to be property deprived of life and liberty for human gain.

  • Grace Bloodgood says:

    Thank you for the information on dolphins and intelligence. I have always thought this. But despite their intelligence shouldn’t all creatures human and animal be treated with kindness?