Eight retired dolphins used for entertainment will be the first ever dolphins to be retired to a seaside sanctuary.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland announced this month that they would be retiring eight of their dolphins to a seaside sanctuary by 2020.
Of the eight dolphins, only one has ever swam in the ocean before and that was in 1972, before her capture. Six of them were born and have spent their entire lives at the National Aquarium and the last one was born at SeaWorld in Orlando.
Since it’s likely that none of them would survive in the open seas on their own after living a life of captivity, the aquarium has decided to build a sanctuary for them to have more freedom without needing to suddenly fend for themselves.
“There’s no model anywhere, that we’re aware of, for this. We’re pioneering here, and we know it’s neither the easiest nor the cheapest option.”
Despite the uncertainty of this move, the aquarium is moving ahead with plans by scoping out sites in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. Their decision has been heralded by animal rights groups such as PETA and the Humane Society of the United States.
Praise for this sanctuary brings about further criticism of SeaWorld’s decision to continue to keep their remaining orcas in the confines of their park. After announcing that their breeding program would be discontinued, critics said that the more humane option would be to release them into an open water enclosure that’s much bigger and more suitable for the whales to live the remainder of their life. SeaWorld rejected this idea, saying, “Sea cages for our whales are high risk.”
Baltimore’s sanctuary will have a full-time staff, “excellent water quality” in an appropriate temperature climate, isolation pools for medical care or temporary refuge from harmful conditions, and barriers to stop breeding amongst the dolphins or mingling with wild dolphins.
“We’ve learned a lot, obviously, about how to take care of them, about how to ensure that they thrive. As that learning evolution has continued, it’s become clear to us we can go even further in terms of their health and welfare by taking this kind of step.”
The size of the enclosure has not been announced or perhaps even decided on yet, but Racanelli assured the press that it would be measured in acres rather than square feet.
As public distaste for captive marine animals grows, more and more groups and parks have made the decision to change their policies and the ways they treat their wildlife. As the National Aquarium joins the ranks of those bettering the lives of animals by rightfully retiring them, it proves that large public backlash really can change the world over time.
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