Costco Must End Offering Swim-with-Dolphins Tickets

By Ric O’Barry

Campaign Director

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is urging Costco, the warehouse store giant, to discontinue selling tickets for excursions that take their customers to swim with captive dolphins at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California.  We were alerted to this problem by one of our supporters, Cynthia Fernandez.  We thank her for her vigilance!  She’s been gathering signatures against the Costco offer and plans to present them to the company.

Even the best of these captive facilities harm and kill dolphins.  Many wild dolphins die during capture operations from injuries and physiological stress.   Six Flags Discovery Kingdom tried to purchase and import several dolphins from Taiji’s bloody drive hunts in 1992, but this import was blocked by invoking requirements under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Captivity for these wide-ranging and sentient animals cannot replicate the diversity of the wild ocean and their many close connections with their family and pod.  Most dolphin species do not do well in captivity.  Recently two scientists, former trainers of orcas at Sea World, reported that of 193 orcas caught for captivity, only 41 now survive.  The average age of the ones that have died was only 6.6 years, a fraction of the lifespan of wild orcas which can live 50-70 years or longer.  Even for dolphins that live long in captivity, the sensory deprivation and social sterility of captivity is akin to a human prison.

Costco offers these excursions because they are very popular with the public; however the public remains largely unaware of the fact that dolphins suffer and die in order to entertain them.  Surely, the vast majority of Costco’s customers would be horrified in light of this knowledge.

We plan to inform our supporters and media outlets of the results of our efforts to encourage Costco to stop offering captive dolphin excursions.  We will encourage our members and the public to exclusively support those businesses that have dolphin-friendly policies.

If you would like to help, we urge you to write Costco and urge them to drop the swim-with-dolphins ticket sales for Vallejo’s Six Flags Discovery Kingdom dolphinarium:

Mr. Jeffrey Brotman, Chairman

James Sinegal, CEO and Director

W. Craig Jelinek, President and COO

Costco Wholesale Corporation

PO Box 34331

Seattle, WA 98124

You can e-mail or call in comments to Costco here:

Thank you for your help in protecting dolphins!

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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry


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