Subject: Dolphin Therary Research (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 27 Nov 1997 10:18:31 -0500 (EST)

Subject: Dolphin Therary Research

Please Post:


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=
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, <>.