To: MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA Subject: Dolphin Therary Research ------ Please Post: DOLPHIN THERAPY RESEARCH The Home Box Office (HBO) has contacted the Animal Protection Institute for support of a documentary about a dolphin therapy research program. The objective of the research, to be conducted at three sites in Honduras, Hawaii, and Florida, is to measure the neurological effects of dolphin-child interaction on abused children. The research study, a project of Elissa Faye for her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, is to begin in February at a resort on the island of Roatan, in Honduras. The Institute for Marine Sciences, which offers "swim/dive with the dolphins" adventures to resort guests, will be donating its facilities, trainers and access to their captive dolphins. The recent popularity of dolphin-interaction programs is a concern to the National Marine Fisheries Service which is responsible for enforcing laws against harassment of wild dolphins, and to the USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) which regulates the care of captive dolphins. People who swim with dolphins are in danger of harming the dolphins and themselves =97 and those who feed or harass wild dolphins risk being fined for violating federal laws protecting dolphins. =20 Last year, an example of the danger to captive dolphins from interaction programs occurred at the same resort facility in Honduras. Eight dolphins escaped from their pool during a storm and were never found.=20 The dolphins had been shipped to the resort 16 months earlier from Ocean World in Fort Lauderdale, Florida when it was shut down. These captive dolphins, who did not know how to look for food, probably weren't able to survive in the wild. The Animal Protection Institute (API) is concerned that HBO will be perpetuating unrealistic expectations of dolphins. More importantly, its documentary has the potential to promote human- animal interactions that put both parties at risk. Despite the Flipper myth that dolphins are docile, playful and harmless, they are wild animals and even in captivity they retain their wild instincts.=20 API has informed HBO that, although we are sympathetic to children who are victims of abuse, we can not support any therapy program that exploits animals. Marmam subscribers can voice your concerns to HBO and The Dolphin Therapy Research Team..=20 You may want to include some of these points in your letter: Danger to humans: There have been dozens of reports in the last several years of serious injury to humans from captive dolphins. In a NMFS-sponsored 1994 behavioral study of dolphins involved with Swim-With-Dolphin Programs, aggressive and sexual interactions were observed that put humans at risk. Risk to Captive Dolphins: In the 1994 NMFS study, researchers obser= ved submissive behavior of dolphins in response to swimmer actions. Danger to Wild Dolphins: The captive dolphins used in the research program may transfer disease or breed with the wild dolphin stock of the Honduran area. Along with the swim-with-dolphin program, resort guests have the opportunity to dive with dolphins who have been trained to follow a boat into the open water. These free ranging dolphins can easily intermingle with wild dolphins. Biased Presentation: A documentary should present opinions and reliable data, including potential risks, from organizations and agencies which are scientifically or ethically opposed to the research featured in the program. Send your letters to: Lisa Rueff, Associate Producer Home Box Office, A Time Warner Entertainment Company 2049 Centruy Park East, Suite 4100 Los Angeles, CA 90067-3215 You may also wish to write the Dolphin Therapy Research Program and express your disapproval of this research project: Dolphin Therapy Research 3940 Laurel Canyon Blvd. Suite 354 Studio City, CA 91604 For more information, contact Fran Stricker, Animal Protection Institute, at (800) 348-7387, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.