Mississippi Aquarium Will Teach Kids How to Dominate Dolphins
There is nothing positive about a captive dolphin facility. Aquariums and aquarium profiteers continue to convince people otherwise — trying to keep animal captivity in business.
The city of Gulfport, Mississippi is currently building a captive dolphin facility at the new Mississippi Aquarium which is slated to open in late 2019. At the groundbreaking ceremony on May 11, 2018, we heard a tired old statement that the captive animal industry has clung to for years.
Despite pro-captivity claims about "positive interactions" made by Gulfport Redevelopment Commission chair Carole Lynn Meadows, there is no data to show that interactions with animals in zoos and aquariums have any benefit to animals in the wild.
Zoos and aquariums cling to anything they can to justify their continued animal exploitation. Formative experiences for children are indeed essential in shaping how they understand the world. While there can be little doubt that Gulfport has the best intentions for children in its community, there is nothing “positive” for dolphins confined in aquariums.
Western society dominates animals relentlessly and often ruthlessly. We have been taught to view animals as mere property, assuming they lack insight or awareness into their own lives. We assume they require husbandry or conservation at our hands in order to survive, and that they are incapable of noticing our constraining of their freedom.
In our dominator society, a “positive interaction” with nature – positive in the sense that it reflects and affirms what we’ve been taught – is indeed accurately represented at zoos and aquariums. These places keep animals in prison-like conditions; we are lead to believe that because captives continue to eat and reproduce (though they are often forced to do so), they must be satisfied, or unperturbed, with the conditions they endure.
In these environments, interactions between children and animals, such as dolphins, are often mediated by glass barriers, trainers who withhold food, and drugs that are given that keep them performing. These interactions reinforce exploitative and antiquated ideas about who animals really are, and how humans ought to regard them.
Ultimately, places like the Mississippi Aquarium offer the harmful kind of education that will teach children how to preserve the world: a preservation accomplished by capturing, confining, and utterly dominating animals while denying their ability to understand what is happening to them.
Should the Mississippi Aquarium decide not to construct new dolphin tanks, it would be sending the message that we are learning from our mistakes, that we are beginning to understand that animals deserve better from us. These are the first steps we can take on the long, yet desperately needed road to recovering from the culturally-constructed rift between humans and others in the United States. The rest will be up to future human generations. We owe it to them and the animals we exploit to set children on the right path to adulthood.
To help us fight for dolphins and other captive animals, and to stand up for real conservation in nature and sanctuaries, please send a donation today.