While the public continues to turn against keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for good reason, some facilities refuse to end the practice and are actively working to perpetuate the confinement of these intelligent, far-ranging and social animals.
Right now, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering a permit application filed by the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) to import three bottlenose dolphins from Dolphin Quest Bermuda, who will end up at either the CZS' Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, or Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The tentative plan is to move two of them to Coral World, with the Brookfield Zoo as an alternative destination, while a third may end up at either location at some point in the future.
According to the application, the intent is to "improve the genetic variation and population sustainability of the dolphin populations at these facilities," or, in other words, to make sure we have a steady supply of dolphins in captivity for no other reason than to have dolphins in captivity.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with this plan. As the Dolphin Project and Animal Welfare Institute both point out, moving any to Brookfield Zoo, which is entirely indoors, comes with concerns for dolphins who have only ever lived outside, but Coral World isn't a suitable home for them either.
They might get to live in a sea pen there, but that pen is located in Water Bay, a body of water that's so polluted that in 2018 it was deemed unsafe for even us to swim in 40 percent of the year – not to mention the area is really prone to hurricanes.
While this import permit at least doesn't involve dolphins caught from the wild, it's still supporting the captivity industry, the demand for captive dolphins who still are taken from the wild, and the international trade in live dolphins at a time when we should be going in the complete opposite direction and instead supporting efforts to learn about and protect them in the wild where they belong.
Given what we know about what this species needs to thrive, facilities in the U.S. should no longer be allowed to exploit them and put profits and our entertainment over their welfare by increasing the captive population.
Please sign and share this petition urging the National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure the U.S. isn't taking part in the international dolphin trade by rejecting this permit application.