Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Afion
    Offline

    Afion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK

    Dolphins in captivity

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Afion, Jul 14, 2012.

    What is your view on dolphins and orcas being kept in captivity? I'm against it, and I think most people are, but I could be wrong...
     
  2. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    It upsets me very much, as I think it would anyone who has watched the movie The Cove.
    That said, it actually doesn't seem to bother most people too much, which upsets me more.
     
  3. Afion
    Offline

    Afion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK
    I've never watched The Cove, but it makes me really angry when people allow dolphins and orcas to be kept in captivity. :/
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I have to point out that the very wording of the thread is biased. The word "captivity" is in itself a judgement. These are not animals sought out and captured in the wild. These are animals either nursed back to health or born in a protected environment. Many of these animals would have a high probability of dying quickly if released into the wild.

    Meanwhile, scientists, and the pujblic, can learn a lot about these animals.

    Not all of them are well cared for, and that is deplorable. But many are cared for, with love.

    Political correctness aside, there are at least two sides to this issue, as is usually the case.
     
  5. Afion
    Offline

    Afion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK
    Actually Cogito, a lot of the captive dolphins are born in the wild, they are captured in hunts in Japan
     
  6. Steph4136
    Offline

    Steph4136 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    It's such a double edged sword.

    Part of me hates seeing it (this goes for animals in a zoo too). I've been to some zoos that make me feel literally sick with the animals in tiny cages with zero stimulation. I went to one zoo in upstate NY that had three lions in a cage much too small and they must have been so inbred because they just looked...weird. Hard to describe, but they had an odd look to their features for lions.

    I've also been to some zoos where the animals are obviously well cared for, loved and are in an environment that closely resembles their own in the wild. As Cogito mentioned, these are the instances where people can learn about these animals, as well as see them up close and (sort of) personal.

    As for marine animals, again, it's a double edged sword. I hate seeing the orcas with their dorsal fin bent sideways,which is a result of them being kept in an enclosure that's too small compared to the open ocean. I know this can happen in the wild too, but it's rare.
     
  7. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Right. And dolphins, like many other animals, in captivity live shorter lives, show more indications of depression and unnatural behavior. There are certainly instances of refuges around the world that do restore injured animals to health, but they are the minority. Even giving "love" to animals doesn't provide them with the habitat they need to live healthy, natural lives. The huge number of dolphins who are used in "shows" around the world for the entertainment of humans shows that this is not an example of people "loving" dolphins and keeping them in a confined location for their own benefit.

    You're right, Cog, in that there are two sides to almost every issue. This is not so much one of them. The argument for scientific study and betterment of animals does not extend to large numbers of for-profit groups that use animals for entertainment.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    keeping any animal away from its natural habitat and way of life for any reason other than nursing it back to health [and then releasing it asap] is a disgusting crime against the poor creature and nature itself... all who do so should be kept in a cage, or a tank, or a zoo for the rest of their lives...

    same goes for keeping 'pets' or using animals for any kind of competition, not allowing them to live as they were meant to as a species... and breeding animals to be pets or to compete is just as much a crime in my book... breeding them to change how they look or act is the worst crime of all, on a par with using them for 'sport' fighting or as food...

    if i had a magic wand, i'd make every human who used/misused/abused/ate any fellow animal live as one for the rest of their life... i'm guilty of murdering some insects that scare or pester me, for which i'm terribly ashamed and would have to accept such a punishment myself...
     
  9. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    For me, it really depends on what you mean by captivity, as I think Cog rightly pointed out. I'm not comfortable, for example, with the idea of dolphins being used by the U.S. Navy for clearing mines, and if it was for research purposes the animals must be treated with a certain level of gentleness - and really depends on the type of research too.

    I have no problem with animals being used to help us humans, having pets (we have a cat who we love very much), and certainly no problem with eating meat and seafood. Sure the slaughtering of an animal for its meat is not pleasant, even as an idea, but animals kept and subjected to unnecessary cruelty is just not kosher.
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    spend some time where the 'food' you eat is kept from the time it's born till when it's slaughtered and you'll see that equals 'kept and subjected to unnecessary cruelty' and then some!
     
  11. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    As a rule I prefer to buy free-range produce for many of the same reasons I like to buy more naturally grown veg. Sure, I am satisfied that free-range is better on the animal, but it also tastes better. There is a huge amount of difference between a tomato grown in Italy from one grown in Britain just as there is a big difference between battery-farmed chicken and free range chicken.

    Don't think though that I can't see where vegetarians and the like are coming from, I really can, but I eat meat and I shouldn't be looked down on for it.
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    What Lemex said. I like where I am in the food chain, and make no apologies for it.

    I tried the vegetarian thing for a year in college. Couldn't take it any more.
     
  13. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    These are different issues, though. Dolphins and other whales are not eaten by very many people, and the OP asked about "keeping" them in captivity -- that is, for entertainment purposes. I don't believe that our amusement and entertainment can be a sufficient justification for ruining an animal's time of existence on this planet by treating them with extreme cruelty.

    Food is a different issue, however, because humans, like all living things require food to survive, although we don't require entertainment. This does raise a difficult issue, though, especially as we stop denying that animals are sentient beings. Personally, if I had to actually kill the animals I eat, I would not be able to do it. I would have to become something close to a vegetarian. Animals other than humans also hunt, kill, and eat other animals. I therefore don't believe that it is unnatural for us to do so as well. We did evolve to eat meat-based protein.

    That said, this issue has gotten out of control. Michael Pollan, among others, has written and spoken about the wide ramifications of large scale factory farming and aside from the extreme cruelty aspect on the animals kept by the big agricultural conglomerates, there are huge effects on the environment and on human health. We have too many people and we are eating too much meat.

    Again, though, factory farming/big agriculture/pesticide usage/genetic modification/non-locally grown food/quantity and endurance over quality and taste/unnatural diets are a HUGE issue, they are distinct from the issue of animals as entertainment in zoos and shows. Treatment and respect for other sentient beings is a major overriding issue. But you have to address the specific issue that is being discussed.
     
  14. Thumpalumpacus
    Offline

    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    106
    Location:
    Texas
    For species as intelligent as dolphins or orcas, I imagine whether they're captured or born into captivity is a distinction without a difference. I'm very uncomfortable with keeping any of them captive for any reason, given their intelligence and self-awareness.

    Livestock are a different issue. Of course unnecessary cruelty should be avoided, but there's a qualitative difference between the intelligence of a cow or chicken on the one hand, and a dolphin on the other, that eases any compunctions I have about consuming the former.
     
  15. Morkonan
    Offline

    Morkonan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    7
    What's your view of keeping dogs in captivity? Cats? Birds? Fish?

    Keep in mind, dogs are the most intelligent of those mentioned. (No offense meant to "cat people.")

    One thing we have to do is temper our anthropomorphizing of animals with a sound understanding of their behavior, their "needs" and their capacity for conscious intelligence. A snake doesn't care too much about its cage, as long as it is large enough and interesting enough to occupy its tiny little thinking machine. But, a dolphin or orca requires a bit more.. of everything. As long as these needs, as we understand them, are being met, we shouldn't look at such captivity as being a burden upon a species. If new information presents itself, however, we should adjust our behavior like any other rational being would do.

    A lot has been made out of cetacean intelligence. But, we must remember that it is not human intelligence. They are an entirely different species and, even more importantly, are used to an entirely different environment, which gives rise to behaviors that we may not fully understand. We can not adjudge their "happiness" or the suitability of their habitat in captivity by human standards if we hope to be good stewards during their captivity.

    Many cries go out, complaining that whales in captivity is somehow morally wrong. But, if you asked the whales, what would they say? What would they say as a captive whale and not some sort of mockery of a captive human? They might say "Bring more fish" and not "I want a large-screen television and one two-week vacation per year."
     
  16. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Actually, much of the relevant research is pointing toward a greater understanding of and realization of animal consciousness and intelligence.

    The shorter life spans, lack of natural behaviors, difficulties in reproduction, and other factors do show that animals can experience depression and that their mental health is affected by being held in captivity.

    It's been easy and convenient to dismiss these concerns in order for humans to do as they wish. Humans have certainly been the most successful species and have been able to most manipulate the environment for our own convenience and well being. That doesn't mean that other species have no self-awareness or ability to be happy or humans should be able to determine what would be best for that individual animal. There's also emerging thought that we can't really judge the "intelligence" of any one species compared to another, because they do different things and need different things to survive. Judging a cat on its ability to swim wouldn't be very useful.
     
  17. Morkonan
    Offline

    Morkonan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    7
    I agree!

    (Though, I disagree that humans are the most successful species. Strictly according to biomass, ants are more successful than humans.)

    One of my interests is animal intelligence, behavior, "consciousness" and the evolutionary influences on animal behavior (ethology) as well as serious studies of animal intelligence. In most every serious study, there is evidence of much more cognitive ability than we give animals credit for. Hominids seem to dominate, but even just a few days ago there is evidence that dolphins are capable of nonlinear mathematics. Well, sort of. :)

    However, and this is a big "however", I am a great respecter of the Food Chain. Currently, as long as I have some technology available to me, I am at the apex of the food chain. I am, as a human, the penultimate apex predator on Earth. According to the natural order of things, my will and my needs determine the fate of those animals that are unfortunately lower than I am on the food chain. That includes cute dolphins, cuddly puppies and adorable kittens.

    Again, "however", I am also an intelligent creature fully able to empathize with other living conscious things. I am capable of learning and am fully able to alter my own behavior based on new information. That means that while I am an apex predator, I also have the responsibility of being not only a good steward of a natural resource, but a good steward of consciousness as well.

    The trouble is, it's not easy to put the two in an appropriate perspective.

    I believe that what we are going to have to do as a considerate and morally conscious species is develop alternatives not only to meat products, but also develop the means to be good stewards towards the infant consciousnesses we share our planet with. That is very difficult for us to do, today. But, we have to start somewhere. Yet, though I hold this view, I am also a hypocrit. I love a nice piece of beef, am fond of fish and like chicken too. Yet, each of these animals displays a surprising amount of intelligence and I am fully convinced that one or two of them could be discovered to be intelligent, conscious and possessing self-awareness if not a fully developed Theory of Mind. (That's a bit of a reach for these three.) But, dogs, dolphins and maybe even cats have a sort of Theory of Mind and have exhibited behaviors that are more advanced that simple self-awareness. So, as a thoughtful steward of consciousness, I will not eat any of them...
     
  18. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I suppose if biomass is the measure by which you measure the success of a species, then ants and most insects would be considered more successful. Who knows - -maybe ants have huge communicative abilities and self awareness and have developed societies that are way more advanced than ours, without the need for technological advances that change the earth and can be comprehended or perceived by us.

    With our huge overpopulation problem, however, humans have become the most dangerous example of a too-successful predator. The earth's resources cannot sustain the number of people we have on the planet. We're going to reach 9 billion people by 2050, and as it is we already have 1 billion who are starving to death and another 2 who are malnourished. We've changed what we grow in our soil, depleting the nutrients, forcing us to add chemicals to grow food, which we force feed to animals penned into cages who stand in their own feces. The change in their stomach acidity has led to the emergence of virulent bacteria. The runoff from all the waste product and fertilizer is destroying our lakes and oceans, depleting another source of food -- i.e. anything that lives in water.

    The 'top of the food chain' argument only works up to a point. I say this as someone who loves beef, chicken and fish. There's nothing I enjoy a whole lot more than a good cheesesteak. But we didn't evolve to eat as much meat protein as we do, and that is not only hurting us, but it's hurting the whole planet. And this issue is completely different from the question of dolphins in captivity -- again, the OP asked about keeping them for entertainment, which has nothing to do with the literal food chain. As far as the metaphorical food chain and our ability to do whatever we please with any other animal, I think the argument fails. Just because we've managed to change the environment to suit our needs, doesn't mean that it is morally correct to disregard the needs of other animals, and it does nto mean that our own amusement is a sufficient justification for doing so.

    People always try to merge these two arguments, but they need to be kept separate. We're not (generally) talking about eating dolphins and whales. "I have dominated the planet and because I am able, I can do whatever I wish to other animals" is a very different philosophy from "I understand the need to let other animals share my planet, but I do need to eat in order to survive, and in order for me to maintain my health, life, and well-being, I must kill and eat this animal." There are ways to strike a balance between the two -- no needless captivity for animals purely for entertainment, well-maintained animal preserves that are kept as close as possible to an animals' natural habitat for cases where an animal has been injured or there is some reason that the animal would not be able to survive in the wild, and humane, compassionate treatment of animals that are being raised for food. The compassionate treatment would include such things as allowing the animal to roam close to as much as he wishes, giving him a natural diet, giving access to sunlight and fresh air, and eventually, killing the animal in a way that is a quick and painless as possible.

    Basing what one eats on some perceived hierarchy of intelligence is a convenient way to justify eating them, and I see this argument frequently. I think this is somewhat dangerous, because what if we eventually discover that our categorization is off? And how, exactly, should we measure intelligence? Is that more important than self-awareness? To borrow another argument I see a lot, we don't kill babies (even though they clearly have a self-awareness) or people who are mentally or cognitively impaired. If it could be shown that by some measure, a duck or a cow has greater intelligence than some humans, would that mean that we would have to stop eating them? Pigs have been shown to have a greater intelligence than most dogs, yet we eat them.

    Also, there are societies that do eat cats and dogs. There are also some that eat some species of whale. So that's really more of a social more than a well-reasoned decision to exclude certain animals. Cats and dogs especially, as companion animals, have captured a special place in the hearts of many humans. We've spent a lot of time with them, so of course we don't eat them. They made a good choice to stick near us rather than avoid us. But if we spent as much time with other animals as we do with cats and dogs, might we feel the same way? Many of us have a dog or a cat sleeping next to us in our bed, so we would never think of eating them. Other animals might do that if given the opportunity.

    It is a tough issue, and one that requires a certain cognitive dissonance, which I work hard to maintain when I eat a bacon cheeseburger. But I think to the extent possible we need to reorient our thinking as a society to the idea that we should not inflict needless harm on animals and need to share the earth with them. They should be treated with respect and kindness and should only be killed for our benefit in a manner which inflicts as little pain and suffering as possible and minimizes harm to the planet.
     
  19. Morkonan
    Offline

    Morkonan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    7
    I suppose I should have included a more relevant measure, alongside that somewhat fascinating one - For our body size, we are number two in terms of biomass/population. There's a Northern seal that has a larger population. (Just interesting facts.)

    I agree. That's why I included it and the one concerning consciousness and intelligence. It's a sort of Socratic Method way of driving home the point that we are at a crossroads in how we perceive our relationship to our environment. In an earlier age, the only conservation considerations had to do with future exploitation. Today, we are considering obligations based on moral and ethical concerns.

    Babies do not have self-awareness, yet we do not eat them. Why is that? The simple reason is that evolutionary behaviors have evolved that make the counter-productive act of eating one's own offspring extremely unlikely to develop in humans. But, that is not true of all species. Some species routinely eat their own offspring, especially in conditions where doing so ensures the mother survives after a difficult birthing process in a current environment that is unfavorable for new offspring. In short - We don't consider babies as a food source and "intelligence" is not a natural determiner of digestibility. :D

    Yet, we are considering "intelligence" when it comes down to the suitability of certain animals for food, aren't we? Again, we are at a crossroads where our cultural influences are acting to determine our behaviors, instead of evolutionary influences. I expect that those humans who live in areas with plentiful food supplies and who are empowered by their culture and the copious amounts of time that they have that is not devoted to simple survival to make choices regarding foodsources that are heavily influenced by only cultural considerations and not ones that surround survival.

    So, you and I will eat a bacon cheeseburger because it tastes good (an evolutionary adaption supporting behavior I won't go into at the moment) and our culture acknowledges such fare as "fun food" and "comfort food" rather than the health risk in absurd amounts of calories, fats and toxins that burger represents... :)

    But, one day, we may view the act as abhorrent and not because it is unhealthy. We may view it as a moral sin to eat the cooked flesh of a living thing, rather than the pasty fare our "meat-substitute factories" churn out for us.
     
  20. The Crazy Kakoos
    Offline

    The Crazy Kakoos Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    Agreed on both the dolphin thing and this.

    I live on a dairy farm and contrary to popular belief we don't abuse our herds. We don't because an unhappy cow gives less milk. The California Happy Cow thing does have some truth to it as a stressed cow produces less. Also we have a conscience and like animals. If we hated animals we'd be in a different business. I don't know how many times I've seen people all but acuse us of hating cows.
     
  21. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    By this:
    are you saying that you do not, in fact, believe this:
    As far as babies, nowhere did I state or imply that I was talking about eating one's own offspring. Your counterargument is therefore not germane to the point. Babies do have feelings at at some point do develop a self-awareness even though they cannot demonstrate that they possess an intelligence or a potential intelligence, yet we do not kill them or put them in cages for entertainment or perform scientific experiments on them. Nor do we eat them, whether they are our own offspring or unrelated to us, although that is more likely related to our aversion to cannibalism, which again, is not the main point of this discussion.

    I am not certain what you are saying in this paragraph:
    My point was that it may be dangerous to consider "intelligence" as a factor, and I'm not certain that we consistently do so. I'm not so sure we are at any sort of crossroads.
    I'm not certain what your point is about areas of plentiful food. All cultures have rituals and customs regarding food. Once a person is starving, these rituals do take on a lesser priority because yes, people first and foremost want to survive. I'm not sure how that's relevant here.

    The calorie content per se is not really my point about the harm that industrialized agriculture and CAFO-based food causes. Grass-fed/finished beef is comparable to chicken and fish in fat content and in some instances, in omega 3s.
     
  22. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I have great respect for farmers who recognize this and treat their animals well. I think it is vital that people support farms such as this. It's the large industrial farms that cause most of the harm -- who treat animals poorly and add all kinds of antibiotics to the feed, force feed the animals corn, confine animals to dark cages where they can't move, and clip off pig's tails. I go out of my way to try to buy my milk, eggs and meat from small farms that treat animals well.
     
  23. J♥Star
    Offline

    J♥Star Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    @OP, my main thought is that animals in captivity are like pets. If someone buys a pet and takes care of it properly then its fine. However, if they put them in small cages or mistreat them in other ways then it is wrong. I think that if your worried about dolphins and orca's in captivity then you should take a look into veganism (if you aren't already). It seems strange to me to be worried about animals in captivity if you support an industry that breeds animals for the sole purpose of consumption. I went vegan a while ago, and its really not that hard. When you eat out your options will be limited, but there is always something.
    GO VEGAN!
     
  24. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Nothing new is really being said at this point.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page