In Defense of Animals to Hold Outreach Event Today to Highlight Marine Mammals Suffering in Captivity

San Francisco, Calif. (May 15, 2010) – Today, In Defense of Animals (IDA) will be leafleting at Pier 39 to build public support in urging Congress to create and enforce stricter regulations to protect marine mammals held in aquaria for public display. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulations and IDA staff and volunteers will be on hand to educate tourists about the cruelty and misery marine mammals’ experience. ‘Abusement’ parks such as SeaWorld, the Miami Seaquarium, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and other commercial aquaria display them in tiny, concrete, chlorinated swimming pools for life and force them to perform demeaning, circus-style tricks for food in front of screaming crowds and blaring music.

When: Saturday, May 15, 2010, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Where: Pier 39, San Francisco (at entrance, near Embarcadero and Stockton St.)

In permit applications, to comply with federal law, the ‘abusement’ parks emphasize “conservation” and “education” claiming the display of captive animals will enhance those efforts. But it is clear that selling entertainment, souvenirs and snacks are their primary goals.

“The dangerous, unnatural stunts these captive dolphins perform serve no educational purpose. In fact, these stunts and tricks teach the animals false behaviors that never occur in nature and give the viewing public a fake impression of marine mammals in a completely artificial environment,” said Melissa Gonzalez, IDA spokesperson. “Cruel confinement for public display of marine mammals, captured from the wild, separated from their families and forced to perform unnatural circus acts, does not provide any meaningful education about protecting marine mammals and conserving their habitats” she added.

Marine mammals suffer terribly in captivity and usually die decades before their wild counterparts. Captive dolphins frequently go blind, routinely endure ulcers, and suffer from skin problems caused by heavily chlorinated water. They can die from severe psychological stress, diseases exacerbated by the captive stress as well as self-inflicted injuries or those caused by accidents or confrontations with other confined animals. They are gentle creatures who use echolocation to communicate and source food. But in captivity their sound waves now bounce off the concrete walls. Keeping marine mammals in captivity is like confining a human being to a tiny room of mirrors for life. This is enough to drive such gentle animals insane and go neurotic. Hugo, a killer whale (Orca) captured from the wild and held at the Miami Seaquarium died of a brain aneurism after repeatedly ramming his head into the windows and walls of his extremely small tank.

Killer whales perish in captivity decades before their average life expectancy in the wild. Over the last two decades, 22 Killer Whales have died at SeaWorld aquaria alone, way before their life expectancy in the wild. The lives of people who interact with killer whales are at stake too. Among the 200 killer whales that have been held in captivity, 24 different killer whales have injured or killed their dolphin trainers. And the public are not safe as well. Four people from the visiting public have been killed in these aquarium public displays while zero people have been killed by killer whales in the wild.

In the past 16 years, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has allowed marine parks to self-regulate, with devastating effects to both marine mammals and the public. “It’s time the US Congress created and enforced stricter regulations to protect marine mammals in captivity and phased out their display in these ‘abusement’ parks like they did in United Kingdom, where marine mammals are no longer held for public display” said IDA’s Executive Director, Anand Ramanathan. “As a first step, Congress must stop marine parks from forcing animals to perform for food, stop captive breeding and enforce the ban on capture or acquisition of any marine mammal from the wild for public display” he added.

IDA has been a founding member of the Save Japan Dolphin Campaign upon which Academy Award winning film, The Cove is based. The film highlights the horrific drive hunt fishery operations in Japan that is fueled by the ‘abusement’ marine park industry’s quest to replenish captive dolphin populations for circus-style shows and swim-with-dolphin attractions worldwide.  IDA is committed to ending the capture from the wild, breeding and harassment of marine mammals for aquarium public display and slaughter of thousands of whales, dolphins, and porpoises for human consumption in Japan.

For more information, please visit www.idausa.org.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Melissa Gonzalez, 707-981-7701, Melissa@idausa.org

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals' rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi. _________________________________________________________________________________

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048

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