“Aquariums, if they are to be viable in the future, must develop educational venues that allow people to experience for themselves the remarkable cognitive abilities and social prowess of dolphins. Rather than putting on 1950s-style dolphin shows, educational and entertaining films could be shown to teach visitors about dolphins, including the traits that have made them so interesting to the public from ancient times to the present. Aquariums need to provide experiences and tell stories that create the pattern that connects us to dolphins in a visceral way. And it is also the responsibility of aquariums to educate people about the plight of dolphins in the wild and engage their participation in alleviating the problems. In other words, I think that any aquarium that maintains social groups of dolphins must commit not only to attending to the welfare of the individuals in its care but also to fighting for the welfare of dolphins in the wild, including the conservation and protection of wild populations. If these two conditions are met, I support this second, more complex proposal, that aquariums maintain the current population of captive dolphins [while phasing out the breeding program, as she had discussed in a previous paragraph -- TFS]. I support it now in the world we live in, because at this point dolphins and whales need to be in the public eye and heart. We need to fight for their protection.
"The past half a century has seen an odd contradiction in the evolution of zoos and aquariums, at least as far as dolphins are concerned. The first zoos were little more than menageries, often established by noblemen as curiosities, displaying exotic animals captured from the Dark Continent. The animals were viewed as spectacles or even freaks, housed in small cages with prisonlike bars. Beginning in the twentieth century, zoos gradually became wildlife parks, providing animals with more space and richer environments that approximated their natural habitats in some measure. No one is fooled into thinking that he is in a truly natural environment when he goes to a wildlife park, but from an animal welfare point of view, these establishments are a terrific improvement over menageries.
"For dolphins in aquariums, the opposite has occurred. Where once they swam in the company of fish, turtles, seals, and other sea life, they are now too often housed in sterile tanks, in the interests of sanitation. Not all aquariums do this, of course, but most do. And most aquariums continue to see dolphin shows as not only appropriate but as centerpieces of their aquariums. Many managers of aquariums maintain that dolphin shows are what the public wants. They want to see dolphins do higher and higher jumps to reach the omnipresent ball hanging from above. Frankly, I find dolphin shows to be old style rather than forward looking and transformational. They take us back to the mentality of menageries, with animals being held as spectacles to be ogled. Having dolphins jump higher and higher and do ever more clever tricks demeans them as objects; it does not respect them for the kind of animals they really are. I view aquariums that indulge in these archaic displays as letting down both people and dolphins.
“There once was a time when chimpanzees in zoos were dressed in human clothes and made to act out tea parties, ride bikes, smoke pipes, all kinds of activities that had nothing to do with the kind of creatures that chimpanzees are. One has to be getting on in years to remember these spectacles, because many years ago they were recognized as demeaning and stopped. When will making dolphins perform tricks that have nothing to do with their lives be similarly recognized as demeaning, and similarly stopped?”