The National Aquarium in Baltimore is making big changes. In building the nation’s first seaside sanctuary for dolphins, the aquarium is redefining the standards for marine captivity.
By 2020, the National Aquarium plans to have all of their dolphins moved. They currently have 8, and all except 1 were born in captivity. The only wild-born dolphin is 44 years old.
Currently, the dolphins are housed in a 1.3 million-gallon pool, complete with trainers, daily checkups, thousands of tourists, and a buffet of fish. A comfortable habitat to be sure, but a far cry from a natural one. But soon, this will all change. The National Aquarium is currently looking for the perfect piece of ocean front property to build their sanctuary.
“There’ll be crabs on the bottom and lobsters perhaps finding their way into crevices, jellyfish will drift in and out, but these dolphins need to learn how to cope with every single one of those natural features,” National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli said.
In addition to relocation, there will also need to be a retraining process, as the captive born dolphins have no experience of life in the wild. But, trainers and experts say they learn quickly and they should adapt well.
This decision is a reflection of the changing attitudes of the public regarding animal captivity. Movies like “Blackfish” have exposed the public to the dangers of captivity and to the potential trauma that animals face. Whether it’s dolphins in the aquarium, orcas at Sea World, or elephants at the circus, the current trend is to reduce the number of captive performance animals and, instead, opt for sanctuaries.
Racanelli sums it up well, “As attitudes change, we think that our attitudes should too.”
Source: CBS News
Learn More: National Aquarium’s Website