Regardless of whether the animal was captured or bred in captivity, it lives the same sad and shortened life of enslavement: swimming in circles all day, its natural instincts and habits thwarted, its ability to echolocate suppressed, its natural environment poorly imitated. While many animals are bred in captivity, many are still taken from the wild by other countries and sold all over the world for human entertainment. In Taiji, Japan, selling wild dolphins for entertainment before the mass annual slaughter of others for meat is a common and lucrative practice. Last year, nearly 250 dolphins were taken into captivity and sold to dolphinariums and aquariums.
The article quotes Leslie Cornick as calling the notion that a "party at the aquarium" causes pain to the belugas "nonsense." No one at PETA ever said "a party" would cause the Belugas pain; what we said is that the tremendous amount of NOISE generated by live rock bands and 4,000 + festive partygoers would cause them pain because these creatures are housed in glass enclosures with cement walls and substrate off which the sound painfully bounces. Cement enclosures don't exist in the ocean. And this was not a quiet dinner party. This was a huge, loud event attended by thousands of young, spirited people. In fact, here is what Leslie Cornick DID say about the captivity of Belugas:
"This has been an extremely difficult situation for me as a biologist who participated in field research that was supported by the Georgia Aquarium - without disclosure that the research was being funded in anticipation of this permit application. I care about many of the people involved at GA and other captive facilities, and have done captive research on belugas. HOWEVER, importation of wild belugas IS NOT necessary for the conservation of wild populations. Period. It's a travesty."
I am one of the PETA volunteers who protested Friday afternoon and who is quoted in this article. Let me get this straight: the aquarium staff are "devoted" to and "love" these animals? REALLY? They love them so much that they support these "majestic animals" being torn away from their strong and complex family units in their natural habitat, the ocean, to be put on display in a tiny (by comparison with the ocean) tank that bears no important resemblance to the vastness and complexity of their home? Whales travel hundreds of miles in an average day. They have complex family structures. They eat live food. All that is natural and familiar to them is ripped away by procurers who seek only profit by capturing them and forcing those who survive the capture to travel hundreds of miles to be sold to aquariums around the country whose staff "devote their lives" to what? To their suffering? Nothing that is free chooses to live in captivity. WE make that choice for our own selfish ends.
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