Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Captive Whales and Dolphins

Thousands of whales and dolphins (known collectively as cetacea) are held in hundreds of zoos and dolphinaria across the world. An unsustainable industry, animals are still taken from the wild to stock a growing number of captive facilities. Deprived of their freedom and choice in an alien environment, captive whales and dolphins are usually trained to perform unnatural behaviour or interact with people in swim-with or petting activities.

In the wild, the smallest bottlenose dolphin home ranges are on the order of 125 square kilometres. Orcas can dive as deep as 60 metres2 and may travel as far as 150 kilometres in a day. Almost always in motion, cetaceans spend only 20% or less of their time at the water’s surface. Captive facilities cannot compare to the vast natural environment of wild cetaceans and even the largest facilities are just a fraction of the animals’ natural home range in size. When denied adequate space, large, wide-ranging carnivores commonly develop problems such as abnormal repetitive behaviour, aggression and reduced life expectancy.

The number of dolphins bred in captivity does not replace the number that die. They suffer from high mortality rates, low breeding success and often endure physical and psychological disorders. Cetacea are frequently captured from the wild and sold into captivity. The methods of capture, and subsequent transport, can be extremely cruel and some animals die of shock or injury in the process. Born Free works actively at both a European and global level, raising awareness about the plight of dolphins and whales in captivity, campaigning against their continued capture from the wild to maintain the captive industry, challenges their use in swim-with activities and campaigns for higher standards of care and their inclusion in national and international animal protection legislation.


  1. Join the Born Free Foundation, and help us campaign against the captive dolphin industry and better protect whales and dolphins in the wild
  2. Pledge to avoid marine parks or zoos that keep and display whales and dolphins.
  3. Tell your friends and family about the plight of cetaceans in captivity and about the ground breaking film Blackfish, encourage them to watch it and buy the DVD, available from Born Free here.
  4. Report your concerns about captive whales and dolphins via our global initiative, Travellers’ Animal Alert
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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