US Navy Euthanizes “War Hero” Dolphin

US Navy Euthanizes “War Hero” Dolphin

The United States Navy has killed again. On April 11, a male bottlenose dolphin named Makai was euthanized, reportedly due to ailments related to “old age,” after being captured from the wild and held captive in prison-like conditions for an astonishing 43 years.

Even more astonishing is the statement released by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) regarding Makai’s death. In it, Makai is described as being, “one of our most celebrated veterans of the Iraq War,” and called "an American hero.” By definition, a hero is a person, and a person has rights and intrinsic worth and dignity – all things that the Navy patently denied to Makai for the entire time since his capture.

The Navy’s statement also claims that Makai, “lived to be more than twice the average age of dolphins in the wild,” yet this is a factually incorrect claim of the sort that the captivity industry – including companies like SeaWorld –loves to trot out. While it is difficult to determine lifespans of wild cetaceans, it is generally agreed that wild individuals live to be about 45 years old – although many dolphins have lived to be much older, such as Nellie, a captive dolphin who lived to be 61.

The SPAWAR facility is located in the San Diego Bay of California. This depressing place in a polluted harbor holds an astonishing 85 dolphins captive in small net pens that bear a strong resemblance to prison cells. There are also 55 sea lions prisoners trapped at the facility as well.

There is nothing right, humane or sane about capturing wild animals and forcing them to perform as weapons in human wars. Makai is just one tragic example of how the Navy views animals, nature and other human beings – and how its outdated attitude badly need to change.