The Utter Despair Behind the Captive Dolphin’s Smile   
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The images in the following program are highly sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about cruelty to animals, praying that you will help to stop it.

Conscientious viewers, this is the Stop Animal Cruelty series on Supreme Master Television. Today we will hear from prominent dolphin advocate and director of SaveJapanDolphins.org Mr. Richard (Ric) O’Barry who is also known for his role in the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove.” The film exposes the sheer terror encountered by the approximately 20,000 dolphins that are annually trapped in a cove and then murdered for meat in Taiji, Japan. Some of the captured dolphins however are kept alive and sold to aquariums, zoos and so-called amusement parks.

Ric O’Barry was once a dolphin trainer for the popular American TV show “Flipper,” however he had a change of heart when he saw the terrible emotional and physical toll that life in captivity has on these sensitive and intelligent beings. Dolphins have a very large cerebral cortex and an associational neocortex of significant size. They have an impressive cognitive capacity. Scientific studies have shown them to be self-aware and very social beings.

Dr. Louis M. Herman, a faculty member of the Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii, USA describes dolphins as our “cognitive cousins” to highlight the fact that Bottlenose dolphins’ level of reasoning is the same as that of humans and the great apes.

The enormous stress of being chased and herded into a small cove is more than these beings can bear; they are so terrified that some will die of shock and pregnant females may spontaneously abort their fetuses. The dolphins that do escape become extremely upset upon seeing their pod, or family members, captured and in distress and sometimes instead of fleeing in fear, will stay to try and release or simply comfort their loved ones.

And much like in "The Cove," in "The Cove" you see them putting a long pole in the water and then they hit it with a hammer, and it creates a wall of sound. And that drives the dolphins in. It terrorizes them. They do the same thing in the Solomon Islands, except they use very small canoes, and they have a hand-carved paddle. It's a solid, solid tree trunk. And they go out and they have two river stones, very dense stones. When they find the dolphins, they bang them together and that drives them into the cove, just like in Taiji, and they’re slaughtered. Some are captured.

Mr. O’Barry came to Singapore in early October 2011 to try and convince a local resort constructing an aquarium to free 25 Bottlenose dolphins they purchased to put on display. These cetaceans were caught in the waters off the Solomon Islands, a nation in the South Pacific, which is a big source of dolphins for the aquarium and zoo industries.

Well, there are 25 right now there that are going to China. But there are not that many dolphins there and they keep taking more and more. They took 25 to another casino resort in Dubai. There was about 80 that went to Mexico to a dolphin abusement park. There were 25 that went to the Philippines that are scheduled to come here (Singapore) and now there are 25 more that they want to sell them to China. All of them captured violently, a lot of them died in the process.

Dolphins are very family orientated mammals. The females are particularly close and will spend their whole life with their mother and sisters in a family pod. So capturing even one dolphin from a pod is grievous and is the human equivalent of kidnapping. Imagine your child being snatched away and sold into slavery to perform for the amusement of others; that is exactly what happens when a dolphin is taken from the ocean and sent to an aquarium. The abduction of one dolphin causes untold mental anguish to the entire pod.

After being taken captive, the dolphins are transported for sale. With little or no veterinary supervision, and under extremely cruel conditions, the dolphins are taken by truck while carried on stretchers. Being confined to the vehicle, out of water and away from family is very disturbing and damaging to the animal. Improper handling sometimes causes injury or death to the dolphins as does a lack of hydration.

Furthermore, dolphins are very heavy and need the buoyancy of water to protect their bodies. When they are out of water, the full weight of their body pushes down on their internal organs which may rupture or get squashed thus causing massive internal bleeding and trauma resulting in death. On arrival at the aquarium, they are kept in a small containment tank.

Being restricted to a tiny pool away from home is more than most dolphins can handle. In fact, 53% of captured dolphins die within 90 days of being stolen from the seas. This is just the beginning of what is to be a short and tortured life. To train dolphins to perform the unnatural tricks that we often see such as jumping through hoops, the wild animals must be coerced. The dolphins may be starved so that they will perform when given food as a reward.

And for the dolphins that refuse to cooperate, they may be left isolated in a small tank as punishment. The conditions under which captive dolphins are kept are truly abysmal, as even the biggest tanks provide less than a fraction of a percent of the natural range of a dolphin in the wild. Normally these noble marine mammals are used to swimming tens of kilometers per day. In addition, these pools are filled with hazardous chemicals such as chlorine which irritate the skin and eyes of these sensitive beings.

The dolphins are smiling, which is nature’s greatest deception, and the thing that gets them in the most trouble. It creates the illusion they’re always happy. If you put a face mask on and stuck your head underwater and saw the habitat of a dolphin, you could understand better. And, I used to do that, of course. I lived in those tanks. There is nothing there. It’s a bare, concrete tank.

The dolphin’s primary sense is sonar. It's sound. They live in a world of sound. We are light-oriented, we’re visually oriented. That’s our primary sense. So when you put them into a concrete box, it’s a form of sensory deprivation. Is sensory deprivation stressful? Of course it is. They're also free-ranging, meaning they travel about 50 miles a day, doing lots of different stuff. And they’re the only animals in the zoo that have to do tricks in order to be fed. The other animals in the zoo don't have to do that.

As a result of the high levels of stress and anxiety as well as a lack of exercise, stimulation and nutrition, the dolphins often fall sick and die an early death. The diseases that they succumb to are unknown in natural settings. In the wild, dolphins can live for up to 45 years, but half of them die within two years of being placed in captivity, and the remainder average five years in captivity before perishing.

This happens all the time. They die all the time, and they are replaced. They die from all kinds of things that they would not have died if they were in the wild. Most of what they die from are stressed-related diseases. If you look at the marine mammal inventory report, there’re a lot that bang their head into the wall, jump out of the tank, heart failure, all kinds of bizarre things. Captivity is a failed experiment with dolphins. We’ve been experimenting since 1938, and it's a failed experiment.

Captors often justify taking dolphins from the seas in the name of education or research, however there is nothing to learn from seeing a stressed-out, diseased dolphin jumping through rings. It does not help us learn anything about dolphins living in their natural environment nor does it help in their conservation. And the dolphins suffer every minute of their confinement.

The argument for research is also a false one, as the experimental results have very little value as the setting is completely artificial and causes these marine mammals tremendous anguish. Furthermore the research can resemble torture with dolphins having probes inserted into their larynxes or into their sensitive and nerve-filled blow holes. How can we end this tragedy?

We need to stop all captures of dolphins. Those that can be released into the wild, and there’re quite a few, release them back into the wild. The dolphins that are born in captivity and those that are captured from the wild suffer from the same stress-related diseases, and they have the same mortality rates. So it doesn't matter if you breed them in captivity or capture them. It doesn’t work. It's a failed experiment. Dolphins are smart. They’re not stupid. They say that we can't release dolphins into the wild once they've been in captivity. I’m not buying it.

They actually can be rehabilitated, most of them. Not all of them, because of what we have done to them. But many can.

On an individual level, we can assist the dolphins by refusing to visit aquariums or other places where captive dolphins are kept and encourage our family and friends to do the same. If imprisoning dolphins is no longer profitable, these facilities will close down. So, please inform everyone you know of the suffering behind the dolphin’s smile and also contact zoos, aquariums and marine parks to tell them that taking dolphins from the wild is absolutely unacceptable.

We can win. If I’m wearing ivory, I am the problem, the consumer, not the guy in the jungle with the shotgun. Me, the consumer. The consumer has all the power. So that’s what we have to do. Don't wait for the government. We have to do this work.

Finally, let us all show love to all the animals, including dolphins, by following a plant-based diet.

Veganism is probably the only thing that can save the planet. So, my six year old daughter is a vegan, my wife is a vegan. I’m trying to be. Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet!

Our warm and loving thanks, Mr. Ric O’Barry, for your dedicated efforts to protect all dolphins and stop their exploitation. We pray all dolphins soon enjoy everlasting freedom.

For more information on Ric O’Barry and protecting dolphins, please visit www.SaveJapanDolphins.org

Thank you for your company today on our program. May humanity soon live in harmony with all beings.

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