A new attraction at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is being touted as a Broadway-style show, complete with costumed actors, animation projected on a huge screen, music recorded by a 61-piece orchestra, and, oh yeah, dolphins imprisoned for life in a chlorinated tank. Fun for the whole family—unless the family has a conscience.
The aquarium claims to pride itself on playing “a role in animal conservation,” but in an opinion piece published in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution, PETA staffer Jen O’Connor points out that the aquarium spent $110 million on its splashy new dolphin exhibit—nearly 100 times the amount it spent on dolphin conservation. What’s wrong with this Broadway-style picture?
“In the wild, dolphins swim together in family pods up to 100 miles a day,” writes Jen. “They navigate by bouncing sonar waves off objects to determine location and distance. In captivity, their ocean worlds are reduced to claustrophobic swimming pools. Most aquariums keep antacids on hand to treat the animals’ stress-related ulcers.”
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Dolphins are so intelligent that a neuroscientist at Emory University has recommended that they be given the same status as humans, and a professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University backed her up by saying, “The scientific research suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral understanding as individuals.” Would we lock up humans for life, just so that they could entertain a crowd for 25 minutes? The human actors in the Georgia Aquarium show get to go home to the families at the end of the day—not so for the dolphin performers.
“Try to imagine living in the same cramped place for the rest of your life,” writes Jen. “Animals who are genetically designed to swim the vast oceans are no more able to adjust to lifelong captivity than we are. That’s why prison is considered society’s harshest punishment.”
Read Jen’s entire essay here.
Written by Alisa Mullins