A few words and a moment of silence for Jiyu

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

To those who think that dolphin captivity is a benign enterprise, meet Jiyu, one of its latest casualties.  To those who go to the dolphin show, whether Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, or another, the dolphins you see in the show are the ones who made a successful transition from living in the wild to captivity or the progeny of those who made that transition.

What is central to this transition?  Force-feeding.  Wild dolphins catch and eat live fish.  Once they have been deprived of the ability to feed themselves, they must be motivated by food-deprivation (hunger) followed by force-feeding to accept dead fish as food.

Hand down the throat

Hand down the throat, photo by Martyn Stewart

What does force-feeding of a dolphin look like?  In a nutshell, the first trainers these dolphins will ever see must “break” them to accept a small enclosure.  The trainers, or most appropriately called “breakers”, force their hands down the throats of dolphins pushing dead fish to the point in their throats where the dolphins are unable to spit it out.  Over and over and over, until the dolphin accepts dead fish from the hands of people as their food.

You won’t see that from the trainers at Sea World or the Georgia Aquarium, because the first trainers somewhere else performed that ugly task.  The show trainers may still need to perform force-feeding, but they don’t typically do that in front of you.  They save that for the back-tanks.  After the show.

But what about the dolphins that do not make the transition from a free life to captivity and become a casualty?  Meet Jiyu, who was snatched from the wild, languished, unable to make the transition, unable to accept dead fish as food.

The trainers, realizing that she was a “lost cause” for the show or breeding in captivity, stopped caring for her.  And now she has disappeared from this miserable pen, and is likely in a grocery store, in the human food chain.

I am sorry, Jiyu.  Someday there will be no more dolphin shows or trainers whose  job it is to dominate and force-feed you.  Someday there will be trainers whose job it is to teach your kind to learn how to fish and be returned to the ocean where you deserved to live out your life.

And now, reader, please have a moment of silence to honor the life of Jiyu and the others who have fallen due to the captive dolphin industry.

Thank you to Martyn Stewart for the images of the breaker and Heather Hill for the video of Jiyu.  For more information, see Champions for Cetaceans, My Porpoise Driven Life and Suite 101.

21 responses to “A few words and a moment of silence for Jiyu

  1. So sorry that humanity failed you Jiyu 🙁

  2. No, Sandy, humanity didn’t FAIL this dolphin. They KILLED her when she didn’t fit in with their program, and sold her thin body’s flesh as whale, though it was full of mercury. This sentient, SAPIENT, sovereign being was taken from her home, her family, enslaved, and treated so horribly. That isn’t us FAILING. That is us ATTACKING and SLAUGHTERING this amazing being… for no good or valid reason.
    — JT, Founder, Protect The Ocean

  3. We will not forget, or give up. We couldn’t save Jiyu, but there will come a day when only wild dolphins are in the world, when all the ones who have been captured have been rehabilitated and united with a pod to live out their lives in the ocean.

  4. A very Sad day to lose a beautiful and unique species and must continue to help Free All into the Wild. xXx

  5. Yes. A sad day, but doesn’t impact our resolve.

  6. This is a eye opener Mo, thank you. I’m appalled. As patron of these Aquarium’s I understand their desire to educate people about this species..but it is very clear that they have lost sight of their true purposes as marine biologists.

  7. The problem is, the aquariums are generally not educating the public about the species (see my two pieces about the lack of educational content). The Georgia Aquarium is probably not unlike other aquariums in having lots of flash and jumping and ball-throwing, but honestly, that is just sad and appalling, not educational at all.

    No dolphin need be captive in order to educate about the species. Think of all the children that are fascinated by dinosaurs, a very few of whom grow up to be geologists or paleontologists, but without having to have “live” dinosaurs for that education.

    I hope that you will reconsider your patronage of marine mammal-displaying aquariums. These intelligent species are not here for our whim. They should be respected as a species who deserves the right of self-determination and left in the sea to live with its family.

    For every dolphin

  8. RIP Jiyu. I cannot understand why some humans would do this to you or any animal. We are all only a creation that must learn to live in harmony. My family and I are totally vegan for all of you. I will meet you on the other side.

  9. I am with you, Kathy.

  10. Pingback: Japanese Police Raid in Taiji Will Not Stop Dolphin Activism | Cove Blue for Jiyu

  11. I am a newcomer, and I know nothing about the subject matter. Inasmuch as this piece made me more aware of the horrific treatment of dolphins, my question is: Why dolphins? What about other animals in captivity?

  12. Thanks for the question. I will try to be brief here. We can always pick this up later if you’d like. I guess as a preliminary matter, I should confess to being a vegan, or more accurately, on the vegan path. So I feel that the treatment of animals in every single incidence of their life should be viewed through a lens of ethics toward the animals. I am personally unclear about whether we have the capacity, with the burgeoning human population, to treat animals humanely before and during their slaughter; but I am clear that currently we are not. So I do not participate in the eating of them or at least I try very hard. I can’t guarantee that I won’t make a mistake or slip up, but I would venture to say that 360 of 365 days of the year, I imbibe no animals or animal products.

    I blog about dolphins, though, because of what we have learned about their intelligence and most recently, that they are self-aware, along with orcas, elephants, great apes and a couple of others. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test

    So, while I support freedom and as much self-determination as this world can provide animals and, yes, even many plants, and would propose a sufficient reduction in human population to allow natural animal and plant systems retake a significant part of the globe, and to avoid turning the planet into an even well-regulated farm-for-people’s-need, I am blogging now in some concentration about dolphins because I consider it particularly abhorrent to snatch a self-aware animal from freedom to perform, much as a circus clown.

    I say that we do not have the right to do that. In the rights inherent in living things on this planet, I do not believe that human can change the rules from the natural to accommodate its own maladjustment of the system.

    And I’ll stop there for now.

    Again, thanks much for the question.

  13. I am heartbroken and absolutly disgusted!!! I am so tired of the selfish human greed. I am so sorry Jiyu…

  14. Such a sad reality for these beautiful, intelligent dolphins. They are so innocent and man ( not all of course) is so greedy and cruel. I am crying. This hurts so much.
    Of course we will never give up.
    They are our hearts.

  15. I didn’t know the parks had to push dead food down their throats like that to get them to eat. I always thought they just began eating dead fish because they were hungry. Americans are animal lovers. If they knew the truth about what goes on to put on these shows it would all end tomorrow.

    “……and would propose a sufficient reduction in human population to allow natural animal and plant systems retake a significant part of the globe…..”

    I was somewhat disturbed by that comment, Mo.

    • It could sound rather ominous, but I’m not proposing an active reduction, but just what would occur if we stopped procreating like rabbits, world over. Many areas have handled their rabbit-like growth, while other areas, not so much, and largely because they aren’t taught about birth control and they are still operating under an archaic understanding of growth. I am actually just proposing the halt of rabbit growth, and a decrease naturally over time.

      I do, however, believe that the natural world should resume its expression, and that unnatural systems have a tiny footprint. If you find that disturbing, well, then you find me disturbing.

  16. Then I’m disturbing, too. I think humans are way over populated, and I belong to a church that believes in having many children. I didn’t have any. Over population causes so many problems, I won’t get into that now. About dolphins, Jiyu is heartbreaking for me, and now Angel, and all the dolphins that are taken into slavery or slaughtered. I love your blogs, Mo. If people would stop buying tickets, this could end. If they really want an education about dolphins, watch documentaries. Myself, I’ve never seen a dolphin show and never will. I’ve never seen an orca, but it doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about them. I saw wild dolphins in New Zealand and I’ll probably never see any again, but I love them passionately. I’ve never seen a Pilot aWhale, yet they are my favorite. If I can really say I have a favorite. I love them all.

    • Yes, I hear you and agree.

      (Pilot whales are my favorite, too. <3 <3 I dreamt about pilot whales before I ever saw a picture or video of one. Years later, I realized who they were.)

  17. Joslynne Davidson

    The barbarians won. One giant step back into the cesspool of toxic waste that soulless monsters come from…. So very sad-another murdered gentle soul.

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