It is astonishing that Gulfport is willing to put $57 million of taxpayer funding into building a dolphin aquarium, while SeaWorld’s shares and ticket sales tank.
Last week, I presented a city ordinance to Gulfport officials that, if passed, would prohibit the use of dolphins and whales for any purpose. It reflects current scientific understanding and increasing public demand that dolphins be spared from captivity.
Already, 200,000 people and 24 animal protection organizations have spoken out against the city’s plans. Many places in the U.S. have already banned orca captivity; France and India have outlawed dolphin captivity entirely.
Dolphins are highly intelligent, social animals who form strong emotional bonds with one another. These animals have even been known to rescue people struggling at sea. They deserve our respect.
Across the world, and even right here in Mississippi, dolphins languish, suffer and die when held in captivity. Dolphins are not our property, and they deserve better from us.
Those motivated by profit should look to SeaWorld’s example to realize that dolphins may well drive tourists away, and damage existing businesses that depend on income from dolphin-watching tours.
The city still has time to reduce taxpayer burden, respect public opinion, and prevent egregious animal suffering by leaving dolphins out of the Mississippi Aquarium, and instead encourage visitors to enjoy Gulfport’s blessing of dolphins who choose to make their home in the glorious Mississippi Sound.
In Defense of Animals Campaigner