Subject: Captivity

Phillip J. Clapham (pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu)
Sat, 9 Oct 1999 09:13:48 -0400 (EDT)

Hi:
No, you're not the only one who thinks captivity of marine mammals is
wrong.	There are many people who believe this, and several organizations
who work against captivity.
The pro side argue that people with no opportunity to see marine mammals
get to do so in aquaria, and are inspired to do more to help them in the
wild.  The con side says that large, wide-ranging animals like killer
whales should not be confined in small concrete tanks, that they're too
intelligent for this sort of thing.  Also any value of exposure to marine
mammals by the public is countered by reinforcing the idea that captivity
is OK.
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of marine mammals in captivity, especially
killer whales.	I recognize that there is a potential educational value to
public display, and it's possible that, if properly "used", captive marine
mammals could stimulate greater concern among the public for problems in
the wild.  But some of	the displays - having trainers ride around on the
backs of killer whales, for example - set very bad examples, ad simply
reinforce (especially for kids) the idea that has gotten us into enough
trouble with the natural world, that humans are masters of the animals and
they're here to serve us.
And I don't believe that a killer whale - a highly social animal that
ranges over huge distances - belongs in a small tank with minimal
stimulation.  Period.

Phil Clapham