Ripley, a bottlenose dolphin at the Indy Zoo, has died. Information reported to CetaBase.org confirms that she died this past December 21st.
We mourn Ripley’s death and also the life that was stolen from her. She was captured and taken from her family in the Gulf of Mexico in 1988 when she was approximately 3 years old. She spent most of her life living at the Indy Zoo. During her nearly 30 years in captivity, she gave birth to 6 baby dolphins, 5 of which died as infants, and had two miscarriages. Rather than swimming free in the ocean with her family, she spent endless hours in total boredom in a small holding tank. Mixed in with this never-ending monotony, she was taught to do tricks for food and perform in shows; her once magnificent and free life reduced to having babies and doing tricks for curious onlookers.
Concerned Hoosiers have been asking the Indy Zoo for many years to retire these dolphins to a seaside sanctuary. They may not be able to recapture the freedom they deserve, but they should be allowed to feel the ebb and flow of the ocean, while having more space and not being forced to perform. There is a model for this – the National Aquarium in Baltimore has already taken the lead by committing to move their dolphins to a sanctuary. Other countries are also banning the captivity of dolphins and whales. Even Sea World has ended their orca shows and breeding which made them so famous.
The 9 remaining dolphins at the Indy Zoo continue to live in a small tank, deprived of everything that comes natural to them. At very least, the Zoo must stop the failed breeding program that forces other dolphins to suffer the same fate. Of the 29 babies born there, 24 of them have died as infants. Yet the Indy Zoo continues to breed them to create the next generation of performers. It has nothing to do with conservation. Bottlenose dolphins are not endangered and there is no reason they should be wasting away in a tank in the middle of Indiana.
In the 56 days since Ripley’s death, we can’t find anyplace the Indy Zoo has reported this publicly. They have 48 posts on their Facebook page since that time, but not one mention of Ripley. In fact, on the day Ripley died they were posting about “spunky” baby orangutans. The dark side of animals in captivity is always well hidden by those who stand to profit from that captivity.
Rest in peace Ripley, may you finally swim free once again.
For more on the Indy Zoo’s history with dolphins, visit www.ZooBlues.info