One to be Slaughtered; Two for Captivity
By Tim Burns
Feb. 20, 2012 — Sixteen — this is the number of slaughters I have witnessed in Taiji. Not one has been any easier or less painful to watch.
Today, while witnessing and recording the slaughter of a single bottlenose dolphin, I could not help but wonder about the tortured life of the other two bottlenose dolphins taken into captivity just moments earlier. Did the one get slaughtered because he was a male, or because he was not pretty enough? Why can a trainer from Dolphin Resort or the Taiji Whale Mueseum sit under the tarp and pick out the ones to be enslaved and the ones to be slaughtered? I thought they loved these animals? I guess they do…. to death.
Today I received many emails about the one who was slaughtered. Telling me how sorry they were I had to witness the slaughtered dolphin’s last moments.
But again my thoughts go back to the two in captivity. Because a trainer at Dolphin Resort decided these two fit the mold for captivity, they were ripped from their other pod member. Destined for a tortured life in a small tank, a life filled with antibiotics, antidepressants, sunburn, forced to do tricks to eat, and maybe artificially inseminated. Most people are shocked when I tell them that a captive dolphin lives a very short life, maybe only a few years, yet a free dolphin in the wild can live 40-50 years.
As Ric O’Barry notes, when a dolphin dies in an aquarium, there are always more one can get through the international Blood Dolphin$ trade.
I can remember a point in my life when I was headed down the path of marine biology. I thought working with marine mammals was my calling. After all, I loved these animals, spending all my weekends watching dolphins swim for mile after mile off the coast of San Diego. Watching them ride waves right next to me. A professor of mine sat me down and explained that he had worked for many years in the captive industry and that it was not much of a life for marine mammals. I don’t think I can thank that professor enough right now. It took many years for me to get to the place I am today. It is a place that understands the cruelty of the captive trade.
When you witness day in and day out the dolphin trainers choosing a life of torture or slaughter for an animal as majestic as the dolphin, you can only hope that they too will come to realize just how wrong this is. We have to hope that they one day will have an epiphany and become champions of the wild dolphin campaign. That is my hope for them. Until that day, we will bear witness to there atrocities and tell the world every single day!
A Taiji skiff brings dead dolphins to the slaughterhouse in the harbor. The dolphin hunters have gone to elaborate means to hide the dead dolphins from our cameras, as can be seen by the tarps set up to hide the entrance to the slaughterhouse.
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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$.
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