With over 70% of the earth’s surface being water, it’s little wonder that humans are drawn to its oceans, rivers and seas for transport, livelihoods, sustenance and recreation. We are also fascinated by aquatic life - and in particular by whales and dolphins.
Dolphins and other whales can be enormously entertaining, and because they are social and intelligent, can be trained to perform incredible and amusing feats. Their appeal, unfortunately, can sometimes be their downfall, with thousands of dolphins removed from the wild every year for performance and display in aquariums.
AWI believes the capture, transport, trade and confinement of healthy cetaceans are cruel and unnecessary. During the process of capture and confinement, these wild animals suffer shock and stress due to the brutal manner in which they are removed from their families and natural surroundings and held captive in foreign, unsuitable environments.
Once confined in aquarium-type exhibits, the animals are not only denied their freedom, but prevented also from carrying out natural behaviors, such as roaming over 40 miles per day (100 miles for orcas), catching live prey, and interacting with their pod mates. In captivity they can get bored and stressed, and when forced to interact with humans in a captive situation - another unnatural forced behavior - they have been known to behave aggressively. By manipulating animals in such a way, we are not only affecting their lives but are also distorting our belief system and that of our children - promoting the view that these wild animals should be taken from their homes and "tamed" not merely for utilitarian purposes, but for our entertainment.
AWI advocates for watching cetaceans in the wild as a means to experience the thrill of seeing these creatures in action. AWI only supports cetacean captivity in exceptional circumstances, such as when an animal has live stranded and has been deemed by responsible experts as unable to be safely returned to the wild. In these circumstances, we support initiatives to ensure that the animal is truly an ambassador for its species, is afforded proper respect and a decent life and above all, is not trained to perform unnatural tricks or participate in shows.