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Capturing animals for entertainment is morally wrong

Illustration by Devin Beauregard

EARLIER THIS YEAR, the Ministry of Environment and Forests of India made an official decision to ban dolphin captivity.

In a policy statement released in May, the ministry advised state governments to “reject any proposal for dolphinariums by any person/persons, organizations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involve import, [or the] capture of cetacean species to establish for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever.”

It’s a game changing decision that will hopefully catch on worldwide.

The ministry stated that dolphins are unusually intelligent, that they deserve their own specific rights, and that the capturing of them for entertainment purposes is “morally unacceptable.”

I believe the capture of any animal for entertainment purposes should be considered “morally unacceptable,” regardless of how intelligent we believe them to be. No animal should be forced, for our own entertainment, to live within a confined enclosure outside of their natural environment except if they are injured, sick, endangered, or abandoned. Actively seeking out and capturing perfectly healthy animals and placing them inside a giant aquarium for people’s amusement is barbaric. It simply should not be allowed.

India is not the only country to have begun protecting dolphins. Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile have also enforced new policies that ban any form of entertainment that uses dolphins or other cetaceans.

Given the recent bout of bad publicity the United States received when whale trainers were attacked by captivewhales at Marineland, it’s amazing the nation still hasn’t realized the hard truth: no matter how well you train an animal, its basic instincts will remain. This line of business puts both animals and people in unnecessarily dangerous situations, which is a rather steep price to pay for an hour of entertainment.

Canada is a country that prides itself on the preservation of the environment, even if it only serves as a promotional tool for Canadian tourism. It seems only logical that Canada would be the next on the list to enforce the ban and take a firm stand on the issue so that others will follow.

But this is not the case. Despite the fact that science has allowed us to develop a deeper understanding of the animal psyche, such as how damaging it is for animals to spend prolonged time in captivity, Canada continues with business as usual.

I understand the innate and inexplicable beauty of the natural world has always captivated humansn and that this curiosity has driven us to find ways to remove the veil of mystery surrounding wild life. But at what point did we leave our morality behind? At what point does the line between curiosity and entertainment become an indiscernible blur, and money becomes the only green we can see?

I cannot help but be reminded of the old saying, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It may seem childish, but the wisdom in these words is undeniable. If it was the well-being of humans at stake, many would be up in arms about such violations of basic rights. Why do animals deserve any less?