Understand why tourists should not swim with dolphins in the Caribbean, Mexico, the United States, or anywhere else in the world.

Interacting with wild animals at tourist attractions, such as swimming with dolphins, may seem harmless, but it is not. When we can ride, touch, hug, feed, or take selfies with an animal, it is very likely we are facing a lifetime of cruelty.

The entertainment industry with dolphins and their dolphinariums around the world has 336 attractions in about 54 countries, which keeps 3,029 dolphins in captivity. Each of these animals is cruelly imprisoned.

Reasons not to swim with dolphins in Cancun, Florida, Europe
The cruelty behind swimming with a dolphin in Cancún

The reality behind attractions like swimming with dolphins

– Insufficient space

When taken from the wild and kept in captivity, dolphins are forced to live in spaces 200,000 times smaller than the extent of their natural habitat, being kept in small concrete tanks without any freedom to move or express their natural behaviors.

– Impact on social behavior

This point is important to emphasize: dolphins are social animals and their relationships are complex. To be part of this industry, they are separated from their mothers as puppies and forced to live in groups that were not chosen by themselves.

Did you know that in nature, these animals define a social hierarchy?

It does not happen in captivity because, in addition to living in much smaller groups than those formed in nature, new transfers, introductions, and separations happen according to the enterprise’s commercial needs, destabilizing the grouping and affecting the social behavior of these animals.

– Work in exchange for food

For the shows and performances to be successful, the dolphins are kept in work routines, where they soon learn that to receive food from their trainers, they first need to train a lot to learn the tricks. For every trick performed, they receive a piece of frozen fish as a reward.

– Inappropriate environment

They live in noisy environments (with loud music, applause, and audience interaction) and, 100% of the time, in pools with chlorine. This substance is aggressive and toxic to the skin of these animals, which causes injuries.

– Forced interactions

In most situations, they are forced into direct interaction with humans: who has never seen a photo of someone kissing a dolphin, right?

But the dolphinarium industry doesn’t tell us all the behind-the-scenes cruelty required to make a dolphin available to tourists in theme parks.

Dolphins in captivity
Dolphins kept in captivity receiving frozen fish after trick
Photo: Canva

The stress consequences of being held captive

All these situations expose these animals to high levels of stress, causing them to:

  1. Have drops in immunity (called immunosuppression), making them more vulnerable to diseases that would not normally affect them if they were in the wild;
  2. Have increased levels of aggression, either among themselves or with their trainers and visitors (Yes, attractions such as swimming with dolphins are not safe for tourists – an example of this is this recent accident in Cancún, on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico);

How about replacing these attractions with observation tourism?

To stop this exploitation, we at World Animal Protection pressure the tourism and entertainment industry to stop offering tickets to this type of attraction.

We understand that people are drawn to an animal experience – yes, they are fascinating! – yet it doesn’t have to be cruel.

Around the world, there are numerous opportunities for tourism with animals in the wild, where they can express their natural behaviors and have their needs met. It is scientifically impossible for a wild animal to be kept in captivity.

To spend their lives performing in pools smaller than a movie screen is very little for an animal as intelligent, social, and complex as a dolphin.

Swim with dolphins - entertainement
Dolphin being used as a surfboard at tourist attraction
Photo: worldanimalprotection.org.br

In addition, with COVID-19, it became more than clear that the proximity between humans and wild species carries the risk of transmitting zoonoses, which can generate epidemics and, who knows, pandemics.

In two special situations, such as deforestation and commercial practices that exploit wildlife – whether for tourism or for the pet, food, sport hunting, fashion, and traditional medicine industries – we see a neglect of the risks this proximity promotes.

Therefore, it is a public health necessity to keep ourselves somewhat away from wild animals. After all, their place is – and will always be – in nature!

Do you know someone who is thinking about swimming with dolphins during a trip? Make sure you share this post and help us inform as many people as possible about the cruelty behind this attraction. =)

Read as well: