Indy Zoo billboard mocks dolphin suffering right before our eyes
The Indianapolis Zoo has been promoting a new “Wild Things” ad campaign. I came across one of their billboards and was shocked at the blatant in-your-face promotion of animal suffering. Right there on the billboard, there it is:
Dolphins are, in fact, wild animals capable of swimming hundreds of miles in the course of a few days. Yet, at the zoo they are living in a tiny enclosure, spending the majority of their time in a small holding pen where they remain relatively motionless and bored for hours at a time.
I also can’t help but think about the little girl in that ad. If someone were to explain to her how much these dolphins suffer, she would surely think the dolphins should be living in the wild rather than in captivity. Instead, children grow up seeing animals in captivity and are taught that it is somehow normal, or that we are doing the animals a favor (zoos often lie about the fact that dolphins live much longer in the wild than in captivity). The fact is that keeping these animals in captivity does nothing to further the needs or desires of the dolphins. We keep them in captivity purely for human entertainment.
Let’s look beyond this façade and take a closer look at this atrocity committed by the Indianapolis Zoo.
This is China. She was kidnapped from her family in 1988. She was shipped to the Indianapolis Zoo, where she has lived most of her life in a tiny holding tank for the past 25 years.
The Indianapolis Zoo currently has 9 bottlenose dolphins. Five of them were taken directly from their families in the wild. On the Indianapolis Zoo website and on a recent NPR interview, zoo officials referred to their 9 dolphins as their “collection”. In the wild, these dolphins form strong family bonds, express deep emotions and extremely high intelligence. Families eat, play, live, mourn and socialize together for a lifetime. Calling them a “collection” is insulting and only works to minimize their inherent value as independent sentient creatures like you and me.
By viewing the dolphins as mere objects or a prize in a collection, the zoo shows their complete disregard for the individual thoughts, feelings and desires of these dolphins.
The Indianapolis Zoo keeps their dolphins in small holding tanks for most of the day. A few years ago they installed a large glass dome in the bottom of the dolphin exhibit. The noise from zoo visitors is very stressful to the dolphins and they are often forced back into their tanks because of the sound. The dolphins often bump into the dome while swimming and during performances, risking severe injury.
These dolphins should be released back into the wild, if possible. If it isn’t possible (due to their long time in captivity) they should be released into a large sanctuary where they can live out the remainder of their lives in peace without having to ever again perform slave labor for human entertainment.
Please contact the zoo and let them know that it is unacceptable for them to continue to keep captive dolphins!
Attention: Michael Crowther, President & CEO
1200 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46222
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