If Dolphin Captivity is Cruel, Winter Should Be Euthanized
How far are animal rights followers willing to take their ideological, anti-captive wild animal views? It’s the same contradictory internal conflict that plagues organizations like Big Cat Rescue (originally Wildlife on Easy Street, who bred and sold big cats as pets), and their declaration that wild felines are not happy in captivity, but stock their own enormous collection of the caged animals.
"We had not then figured out what seems so obvious to us today, that breeding for life in a cage an animal that was meant to roam free was inherently cruel."
I take cruelty very seriously.Cruelty is defined as: willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.
Big Cat Rescue's current collection is apparently OK, because according to their founder, they seek to run their facility out of business once they end the breeding of big cats and they all die out in captivity. But what about the current unfortunate inmates? Why must they continue to suffer an unnatural and unpleasant existence just because selfish humans cannot cope with the concept of death?
It’s my personal belief, that I also feel is a quite rational one, that there is no point to living if you are unfulfilled, in constant mental agony, and there is no hope in sight that it will ever come to an end. Everyone has to die some time, and this is why we choose to end the suffering of our beloved companion animals when they are doomed to spend the remainder of their lives in physical and mental agony if we do not intervene. It is the kindest choice for them, even if we don’t want to see them go. So I wonder what the deal is with people who tout anti-captivity sentiment ‘unless an animal cannot be released into the wild’.
- Tonga the white serval at Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue to remove elderly serval's nose so he can continue captivity
Winter is a dolphin who was caught in a crab trap and rescued (with assistance from the oh-so-evil Seaworld) and her fame really took off when she stared in her own film, Dolphin Tale, along with big stars like Morgan Freeman. Unfortunately, the trap cut off her blood circulation and the end of her tail 'flaked off'. Winter is the world’s only cetacean to successfully don a prosthetic tail, inspiring humans with prosthetic limbs and non-disabled people alike with her resilience and spirit…or at least what people perceive to be such.
Anti-captivity groups implore that dolphins are silently suffering in their small tanks, casting an illusion of happiness with their ‘smiles’ that are actually just the way their snouts are molded. Unlike other dolphin species, including killer whales, bottle-nose dolphins have reasonable longevity rates in captivity, with their wild average lifespans varying by locale. They are easy to train and adapt to captivity successfully, hence, why they are so widely kept in aquariums across the globe.
I viewed on Dolphin Tale’s IMDB forum that many people expressed anti-dolphin captivity sentiment (just as they do on every single Youtube video featuring dolphinariums that do not have comment approval), but were assured by responders that no other captive dolphins were used in the film to play Winter, other than herself. Winter is housed in the Clearwater Aquarium (a 24 hour webcam of her can be viewed here), and when it comes to captive cetaceans, they are exclusively a rescue facility.
Is Winter Happy?
Surprisingly, Winter does not always wear her prosthetic tail, she spends most of her time floating tailless in a pool, or swimming improperly. Not only is she eternally subjected to 'awful captivity', but she cannot even accomplish a fundamental pleasure of being a dolphin, outside of when humans provide her the artificial aid. Despite all this, she is almost 7 years old and going strong. I believe past experience shows that unhappy, stressed cetaceans do not fare very well for very long.
Why are anti-captive dolphin believers and Big Cat Rescue supporters presumably unphased by the captive existence of these unreleasable animals? Does Winter’s lack of a tail alter her brain and cause her to no longer "suffer" as do others with no disability? Do Big Cat Rescue’s cats pine for freedom, or are they unfulfilled and just waiting to die in their ‘cramped’ caging? I don’t think any empathetic human would be able to overlook this moral dilemma if any of that were true. When any of my pets are sick, or presumably unhappy, the stress is transferred to myself.
I don’t think Carole Baskin (founder of Big Cat Rescue) thinks her cats are unhappy, or living an unreasonable existence. I also don’t think those who care for Winter think they are subjecting this animal to a wretched life. Maybe these individuals think captive animals are not living the ideal life, but they are still pleased with the unnatural alternative.
Winter's captivity is reasonable enough to justify her existence. So, that’s a start with animal rights-ists (my personal belief is that a good portion of captive animals are thriving and are fine). Captivity is not detrimental to an animal enough to warrant termination of their 'suffering'. When I hear people describe captivity as a prison, make comparisons to the animal’s natural range, and describe the enclosure that they are forced to be restricted to, it really does come off as the human equivalent of being locked in a small dungeon (as they want you to believe). But animal rights followers do not truly believe their words, with the exception of maybe PETA, who is known for killing dogs and cats soon after they ‘rescue’ them. I can give them credit where it is due and commend their honesty, but not so much praise their twisted ethics and priorities (neither can the dogs and cats).
Do you think Winter is happy?
Maybe then, to ‘anti-cap’ people, captivity is not “cruel”, but it is 'unfair', which in a way is true. I can't really expect that any animal would make the decision on their own to enter captivity.
Yet, I would have to respond via Willy Wonka’s sarcastic smile, captivity is unfair? Please tell me more about how the world is fair.
Is it fair that wild big cats will inevitably succumb to a drawn out death after they reach about 10 years of age because of mild health restrictions making them unable to hunt and defend themselves? Is it fair that some dolphin species get bullied, raked, and killed by members of their own species for no apparent reason? What about a gray whale spending a year incubating and anticipating her new calf, being subjected to a laborious birth, and being thrilled in becoming a new parent… only to be chased into exhaustion, having her cherished newborn drowned by killer whales so they can eat the baby’s lip? Now that’s REALLY unfair!
The "wild" is extremely cruel and unfair.
It's important to separate animal rights from animal welfare (the former, if adopted, will turn our world upside down with ridiculousness). I don’t care about where the animal ‘belongs’, the only thing that concerns me is if the animal can be cared for properly in its new situation, and be managed by dedicated caretakers who can appropriately bond with the animal and adapt to the best of their ability to meet its needs. The survival of a tail-less dolphin is testament to human care standards.
Captivity has obvious costs, but also benefits for humans and the animal species alike. I for one am a believer that if Winter could talk, she would not have preferred to be left in that crab trap.