Moral Low Ground

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India Bans ‘Morally Unacceptable’ Captive Dolphin Shows

'Morally unacceptable' (Flickr Creative Commons)

‘Morally unacceptable’ (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons)

India has become the fourth– and most important– nation to ban captive dolphin shows, describing them “morally unacceptable” and calling for the cetaceans to be recognized as “non-human persons.”

Treehugger reports that India’s Ministry of the Environment and Forests has banned “any person/persons, organizations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves import [or] capture of cetacean species to establish for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever.”

B.S. Bonal of India’s Central Zoo Authority asserted that cetaceans (whales and dolphins) do not survive well in captivity.

“Confinement in captivity can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of cetaceans by altering their behavior and causing extreme distress,” Bonal wrote in a government policy statement explaining the new ban.

The statement continued:

Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence; as compared to other animals, means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and [it is] morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes.

Puja Mitra of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organization (FIAPO), a collective of animal rights groups, hailed the government’s decision as “a huge victory for the dolphins.”

“India has become a beacon of hope for the global movement to protect cetaceans from captivity,” Mitra told Environment News Service.

Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer who now heads the US-based Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, also told ENS that the new ban is a “huge win for dolphins.”

“Not only has the Indian government spoken out against cruelty, they have contributed to an emerging and vital dialogue about the ways we think about dolphins– as thinking, feeling beings rather than pieces of property to make money off of.”

As Moral Low Ground has reported, the means by which many dolphins are captured for use as human entertainment in marine parks around the world are sometimes shocking. At Japan’s infamous Taiji cove, which gained worldwide notoriety in 2009 after the release of the documentary “The Cove,” handfuls of “lucky” dolphins are selected for lives of captivity and servitude from among pods of hundreds of their doomed companions destined to be slaughtered for their meat.

According to Treehugger, three other nations– Chile, Costa Rica and Hungary– have also banned keeping dolphins in captivity for entertainment purposes.

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