Dolphins. In the desert.
If something seems out of place to you here, you are not alone. More than 100,000 individuals have gathered together to sign a petition against the very idea.
Welcome to Arizona, home of the desert. You know, where there is no ocean. Where dolphins do not belong. Yet, one company, Dolphinaris, wants to change that. They want to give people in Arizona a chance to do what seems normal other place, swim with the dolphins. The group, which already has other traveling dolphin attractions plans to bring the ocean mammals to Arizona so that people can swim with, ride, and play along-side these intelligent creatures. Dolphins would be kept in pools accessible to the public. Fun, according to some. Animal abuse according to others.
The outrage comes from animal rights organizations as well as the Humane Society, which states that dolphins kept in small pools like the ones proposed, can cause agression, including sexual aggression, as well as pose a health hazard to both animal and human alike. The animals would be reduced to only a small percentage of their natural habitat, and be forced to swim endless circles in a tiny enclosure.
Other facilities exist in the United States that offer dolphin swimming experiences, but none seem as oxymoronic as playing ocean in the middle of the desert. According to some, regulation needs to greatly increase in facilities such as these. Some people even go as far as calling for a ban on captivity in dolphins, stating their intelligence, social requirements, and space needs, as important reasons to end the practice.
Dolphins are considered one of the most intelligent species on our planet, having capabilities of both learning new information and passing information onto others (teaching). Intelligence found in dolphins is a rare type not found in many species of the animal kingdom.
Dolphinaris is looking to set up their facility near Scottsdale, AZ, and plans to be close to an already existing marine facility, called OdySea. OdySea is a thiry five acre facility that houses penguins, turtles, and sharks, along with other marine species. OdySea has publicly announced that it has no part with the Dolphinaris attraction or any affiliation with it’s parent company, Ventura Entertainment.
Marine attractions have continued to be in the news lately, following the Blackfish documentary which looked at Orca (killer whale) captivity. This awareness has already led to SeaWorld to end captive Orca breeding programs and to address the public’s concern about captivity in intelligent, social marine animals.
If plans continue as scheduled, Dolphinaris is set to upen this July.
However, 100,000 people have signed a petition against the facility and a protest is scheduled for May 7, 2016.