Meet Nova, a bottlenose dolphin at the Indianapolis Zoo. Here is her heartbreaking story.
She was 5 years old and swimming with her family, or pod, in the Gulf of Mexico in 1988 when she was captured in a net and pulled into the boat. She would never see the family she had spent her entire life with again.
Although we don’t have footage of Nova’s capture, this video will give you an idea of the process of taking a dolphin from the wild and delivering it to a marine park or zoo: www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6dMFyKIfhc
From that day forward, Nova’s life was no longer her own. Her “purpose” in life was re-written that day by her captors from one of strong family bonds, daily social interactions and swimming free in the sea, to nothing more than a performance act at an amusement park. Her value was now linked to the show she could put on for guests at a zoo.
She was moved and transported to new locations five different times, ending up finally at the Indianapolis Zoo as her final home in 1992.
Nova’s home was once the Atlantic Ocean where should could swim free with her family for up to 50 miles per day. The tanks at the Indianapolis Zoo are TINY compared to her natural ocean environment, which we think is extremely cruel. To put it in perspective, the Gulf of Mexico consists of 617,800 square miles of water. The Indy dolphins now have a total of around .002 square miles (and that is being generous, also including the area of the holding tanks).
This article from National Geographic by Maddalena Bearzi of Ocean Conservation Society explains in more detail the many reasons why captivity is excruciatingly cruel for dolphins: Debunking Captivity; 3 Reasons Not to keep Dolphins in a Tank http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/08/debunking-captivity-3-reasons-not-to-keep-dolphins-in-a-tank/