Santa Barbara, CA (July 20, 2016) – Noted Santa Barbara dolphin biologist, Dr. Toni Frohoff, also of POD (Protect Our Dolphins of Santa Barbara), supervised the creation of this first-ever Ten Worst Tanks for Dolphins & Whales list. The list was produced by the International animal protection organization, In Defense of Animals, which released this list for facilities in North America, with the #1 spot shaming SeaWorld as the “most disappointing”.
The Ten Worst Tanks list exposes and represents the misery and suffering of the oceans’ most intelligent and complex mammals in captivity. Whales and dolphins are subject to astonishing rates of premature death, captivity-related injuries, forced removal of babies from mothers, and solitary isolation. Many are confined to swimming endless circles in cramped tanks, deprived of healthy social groups, and forced to endure invasive reproduction techniques, polluted water, dangerous transport, and brutal exploitation of their sociable natures through “swim” and “petting” programs.
The list was selected from over 60 facilities from southern Canada to Mexico where almost 1,000 whales and dolphins are held captive for public display.
“These ten aquariums really plumb the depths in their exploitation of intelligent and sensitive animals,” said In Defense of Animals President, Dr. Marilyn Kroplick. “Even with the most modern technology, veterinary care, and infrastructure, cetaceans still suffer intensely in captivity and exhibit surprisingly high mortality rates. Please help protect dolphins and whales in the wild where they belong, by pledging to never visit facilities that imprison them.”
SeaWorld recently announced it would end its orca breeding and performances, but the statement lacks the depth of change the orcas and dolphins deserve. Instead of rethinking the public’s growing distaste for exploiting imprisoned animals, SeaWorld is now developing a “swim with dolphins” attraction in San Antonio that is slated to open this fall.
“Beneath the glitz, glamour, and dolphins’ permanently fixed ‘smiles’ is a world of pain and suffering in these brilliant and complex mammals of the sea”, stated Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., Cetacean Scientist for In Defense of Animals. She said, “SeaWorld and other aquariums deprive whales and dolphins of the lives they’ve adapted to live for millions of years in the wild, and steal from them what we value most; freedom and family.”
Despite claims of having “the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine”, a disturbing number of cetaceans are dying at SeaWorld, decades earlier than their natural life expectancy. Six young cetaceans died prematurely at SeaWorld facilities in 2015; teenage orca Unna, two baby beluga whales, and three young dolphins. Tilikum, the tormented orca featured in revolutionary film Blackfish, is ailing and may be next.
Behind SeaWorld’s announcement about phasing out orca breeding was a ruling from the California Coastal Commission that restricted the company’s ability to breed orcas in San Diego. SeaWorld quickly threw away the key for the remaining 28 orcas in its concrete prisons with an impudent declaration that the animals would never see or feel the natural seawater of a seaside sanctuary where they could retire in peace.
10 WORST TANKS:
1. SeaWorld, San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; Orlando, Florida
2. Marineland, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
3. Puerto Aventuras Dolphin Discovery, Mayan Riviera, Quinta Roo, Mexico
4. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia
5. Miami Seaquarium, Miami, Florida
6. Six Flags Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
7. Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, Gulfport, Mississippi and Unnamed new facility planned by same owner also in Gulfport, Mississippi
8. Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
9. Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
10. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois
Dophinaris, Scottsdale, Arizona
National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland