No difference between dolphins and dogs, Georgia Aquarium?

It is amazing to me that the United States allows people who do not understand the fundamental nature of dolphins to be their caretakers. But that is exactly what is happening right this minute at the world’s largest aquarium. The organization that is entrusted with the lives of “its” eleven dolphins doesn’t see the difference between them and dogs. Or horses.

Now, if you have dogs and horses, you already know that even those two species shouldn’t be lumped. And those two species have been living under the care of humans for over 10,000 years. But let’s get to what the Senior Vice-President of Husbandry (I dare ya not to say “Ew!” when you read the definition of husbandry in the context of the Aquarium’s dolphins. Hey! I didn’t write it!) and Chief Animal Officer, Billy Hurley, at the Georgia Aquarium actually said (listen up beginning at 18 seconds):

Maybe this is gilding the lily, but Mr. Husbandry, I mean, Hurley, also said, in a piece by Access Atlanta, to announce the opening of its dolphin extravaganza:

I look at people playing with their dogs in the park and see the dogs jumping really high in the air to catch a Frisbee and say, ‘That dog is having a lot of fun.’ That’s exactly what you would see in the training of our dolphins; our trainers are playing with them every day.

So, Mr. Hurley thinks that a wild creature living in captivity is having fun. Sayin’.

As is the case with most corporations, they make assertions to sell a product, or rather, to sell an idea which will imprint something on your brain that will then inform your decision to buy that product again and again. So, when the world’s largest aquarium says, with casual authority, that the dolphins could be dogs or horses, it doesn’t really matter, they are counting on that idea – that image of your wagging lap dog or your favorite jumper who likes you but hates your brother (grin) – creating a warm and fuzzy in your brain somewhere. It tells you that dolphins-in-an-aquarium is natural, just like your dog curled up beside you on the sofa while you drink egg nog and listen to premature Christmas carols. Are they ever really premature?

But here are some facts:

Let’s recap that: Dogs always liked table scraps, so they may have sought us out, and live longer with us than in the wild. Horses, same story, except it seems we don’t know much about how or when we domesticated horses. Dolphins are not “domesticated” animals; they are merely wild animals held in captivity, like a lion or an elephant. And how do dolphins fare in the wild-to-captivity transition? Not well. Not well at all. They live longer in the wild. Plain and simple. Ergo, the comparison to dogs and horses is misplaced, Mr. Georgia Aquarium Man.

So, if the Georgia Aquarium almost succeeded in creating that lap dog-dolphin connection in your brain, I’m trusting that you now can begin to see that the comparison is grounded in marketing more than fact. Until the Georgia Aquarium appreciates that a comparison of dolphins to dogs or horses is inappropriate, their ownership of these wild creatures is, likewise, inappropriate.

But to borrow, and modify, an old country expression, that dolphin can’t hunt. Because you won’t let him.

One last thought: while David Kimmel, Georgia Aquarium President and Chief Operating Officer (they don’t get any bigger than that, well, except for Bernie Marcus, CEO and Chairman of the Board) and the rest of us “go about [our] lives,” the Atlanta 11 remain captive in a set of tanks that are morbidly small compared to their natural range and removed from the natural rhythms of the ocean to which the dolphin has been connected for 50 million years.

In an ethical society, these are beings with an inherent right to go about their lives and not be considered someone’s “actor” in an extravaganza, or someone else’s amusement, or even curiosity, or a human-named ambassador for the ocean.

Sign the Pledge: Say No! to the Dolphin Show.

Note to self: Blog for another day is the point that Mr. Hurley also doesn’t see the difference between the dolphins and “other mammals.” Hey, PETA!! I think Mr. Hurley agrees with you! Sounds like you may have a hostile witness.

11 responses to “No difference between dolphins and dogs, Georgia Aquarium?

  1. Thank you, blogger. Well stated! The Georgia Aquarium seems to be all about raking in the profit from forcing captive dolphins to do tricks for a paying public. Dolphins are NOT an endangered species and there is no justifiable reason for imprisoning them, making slaves of them, forcing them to breed with strangers from different oceans, playing God with them. When the eleven Georgia Aquarium dolphins are not performing, they are held three small pools that are 12 to 14 feet deep, forced to be petted or do tricks for food. Not exactly like a natural environment. If the Georgia Aquarium really cared about dolphin welfare, then these dolphins would be on a fast track to rehab and release back to the wild. They are mammals who give live births, they are not fish!!!

  2. annerichardson735

    Great article! The differences seem so obvious, and yet some people just don’t get it. Sad.

  3. Thank you! We’ll just keep providing this information, and they will. Most people just haven’t stopped to think about it (like many issues).

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  6. I assume we are talking about the aquarium in Atlanta???

    I visited and dont remember seeing any dolphins at all.

    I agree whole heartedly with your comments


  7. Yes David. Dolphin show opened in April 2011.

  8. I can’t believe he could even fix his mouth to say those words. What kind of kool aid has he been drinking to compare dolphins to dogs that were domesticated at least 10,000 years ago? Dogs YEARN for our companionship and love. Captive dolphins are forced to look to people for their every need of which only one is addressed, and that is food which they must perform in order to receive. I’m just appalled. Remember this is the aquarium that is fighting desperately to import 18 wild caught belugas from Russia on the pretext of “rescuing” them, when the reality is that if they win their appeal (along with their not so silent partner $eaworld), they will only fuel the companies in Russia capturing cetaceans, to continue capturing more. If they were truly concerned with any kind of conservation they’d be fighting to have those Russian belugas (and orcas) RELEASED, not transported halfway across the world to improve their Frankenstein-ish breeding programs.

  9. I have been opposed to the “Dolphin Show” ever since it opened and have vowed to not go to the aquarium again because of the 1 captive dolphin and the captive belugas. I see this as a form of slavery that we should not support in any way. I am tempted to start a protest campaign at the entrance to the slave holders money bin. If it was only a simple process to rescue these sentient creatures from their slave owners.

    • There is a demonstration at the entrance of the Georgia Aquarium this Saturday, June 6, from noon to 3pm, as part of the worldwide demonstration Empty The Tanks. 225 Baker Street, Atlanta. Please come join us in providing information about the truth about captivity.

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