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, whales and dolphins can swim as much as 160km a day, have home ranges as large as 300km and dive to depths as deep as 60 meters. Living in groups (called pods), these animals are highly sociable and intelligent, displaying self-awareness and differing cultures. Captive facilities cannot compare to the vast, complex natural environment of the wild cetacea and even the largest facilities offer just a fraction of their wild range. Research indicates that the stress of confinement often results in behavioural abnormalities, illness, decreased resistance to disease 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.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: