WDCS: Raking out the truth?

The UK Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) really does not like cetaceans in captive care and leaves no stone unturned to spend its’ members donations on this “conservation” issue even to the point of paying the salary for a “Captivity Programme Manager”.


The article below was originally written and published over 20 years ago in 1991.  And yet, despite this not much has changed as regards the rhetoric and propaganda of the animal-rights groups opposed to dolphins in zoos and aquariums.

US Navy 050411-N-3419D-056 A female bottlenose...
US Navy 050411-N-3419D-056 A female bottlenose dolphin BJ performs her daily exercises while her trainer, Dera Look (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

                              DOLPHINARIA DILEMMA - HARD FACT OR HYPE?

Originally pubished in Ratel: Journal of the Association of British Wild Animal Keepers
Volume 18, Number 2. 1991 © The Association of British Wild Animal Keepers    

Public interest in dolphins and whales has increased in recent times. However, some concerns relating to the welfare of captive dolphins have been very much over-stated, and some otherwise well-meaning animal and environment lobby groups have presented a very unfair picture of the captive environment in which these animals live.

Drive Hunts and Animals Acquired for Dolphinaria.

Page Updated 28 September 2015


The Cove is the 2009 award winning documentary exposing the annual drive fisheries hunt of dolphins and whales in the whaling village of Taiji, Wakayama, Japan. 

Drive fisheries are not historically new and a number of countries aside from Japan also hunt (or have hunted) animals by this method such as the Solomon Islands, the Faeroe Islands and Peru. The drive fishery at Taiji is believed to have been in existence for more than 350 years. The Cove was actually not the first to document this controversial hunt which has been highlighted over the years by magazines such as the National Geographic and in the television series by the late Jacques-Yves Cousteau in the mid-1970's. Many have rightly been very concerned regarding this hunting methods and questioned both its operation on moral, ethical and animal welfare grounds.

Dying to entertain? Do dolphins die young in captivity?

Dying to entertain? Do dolphins die young in captivity as claimed by many of those opposed to aquariums and zoos?

Morgan - A suitable candidate for rehabilitation and release?

Free Morgan!
Free Morgan! (Photo credit: wietse?)

On 23 June 2010 a young killer whale was reported to be swimming in the Dutch Wadden Sea; a rare event for this species with the last stranding in Dutch waters in 1963. 

Some interesting information from the North Atlantic Killer Whale ID Project HERE.

The animal was monitored and it became clear the animal was in some distress and with the permission of the Dutch government the cetacean rescue foundation SOS Delfijn and employees from Dolfinarium Harderwijk rescued the animal and took it to a temporary holding pool at Harderwijk for assessment and treatment.

Do dolphin commit suicide in captivity?

One of the perpetuating myths that surround dolphins in captive care is the accusation that animals have committed suicide. A review of the published evidence reveals various possible sources for this myth. 

Perhaps the most populist source for this myth comes from the animal-rights activist and one of the former trainers of dolphins for the 60's TV series Flipper is Ric O'Barry (formerly O''Feldman). He claims that Kathy one of the number of animals that played Flipper committed suicide in his 1989 book "Behind the Dolphin Smile". He maintains that this animal committed suicide in my arms and as dolphins "are not automatic air breathers" she decided to stop breathing. A position that has actually now been scientifically disproved. See veterinarian Michael T. Walsh comments below.