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A dolphinarium is an
The most common species of dolphin kept in dolphinariums is the
New legislation, most notably the 1972
Many varied designs exist, but basic dolphinarium design for public performances often consists of stands for the public around a semi-circular pool, sometimes with glass walls which allow underwater viewing, and a platform in the middle from which the trainers direct and present the show.
The water in the pools has to be constantly filtered to keep it clean for the dolphins and the spectators, and the temperature and composition of the water has to be controlled to match the conditions dolphins experience in the wild. In the absence of a common international regulation, guidelines regarding the minimum size of the pools vary between countries. To give an indication of pool sizes, the European Association for Aquatic Mammals recommends that a pool for five dolphins should have a surface area of 275 m2 (2,960 sq ft) plus an additional 75 m2 (810 sq ft) for every additional animal, have a depth of 3.5 m (11 ft) and have a water volume of at least 1,000 m3 (35,000 cu ft) with an additional 200 m3 (7,100 cu ft) for every additional animal. If two of these three conditions are met, and the third is not more than 10% below standard, the EAAM considers the pool size to be acceptable.
The Festa Dolphinarium in Varna, Bulgaria
Dolphin show in Marineland, Niagara
Various species of dolphins are kept in captivity as well as several other small whale species such as
Trade and capture
In the early days, many bottlenose dolphins were wild-caught off the coast of Florida. Though the Marine Mammal Protection Act, established in 1972, allows an exception for the collection of dolphins for public display and research purposes when a permit is obtained, bottlenose dolphins have not been captured in American waters since 1989. In most Western countries, breeding programs have been set up to provide the dolphinariums with new animals. To achieve a sufficient birth rate and to prevent inbreeding, artificial insemination (AI) is occasionally used. The use of AI also allows dolphinariums to increase the genetic diversity of their population without having to bring in any dolphins from other facilities.
The trade of dolphins is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (also known as the Washington Convention or CITES). Endangered dolphin species are included in CITES' Appendix I, in which case trade is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Species considered not to be threatened with extinction are included in Appendix II, in which case trade "must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival". Most cetacean species traded for display in captivity to the public or for use in swimming with dolphins and other interaction programs are listed on Appendix II.
However, live dolphins trade still continues. A live bottlenose dolphin is estimated to be worth between a few thousand to several tens of thousands of
Criticism and legal bans
| ||Nationwide ban on dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity|| ||De facto nationwide ban on dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity due to strict regulations|
| ||Some subnational bans on dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity|| ||Dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity are currently being phased out ahead of a nationwide ban|
| ||Dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity legal|| ||No data|
Many animal welfare groups such as the
The lifespan of dolphins in captivity is another subject of debate. Research has shown that there is no significant difference between wild and captive survival rates for bottlenose dolphins. This does not, however, reflect a global state of affairs: for example, bottlenose dolphins in captive facilities in Jamaica suffer from extremely high mortality rates.
Some scientists suggest that the "unusually high" intelligence of dolphins
Legal bans or restrictions relating to keeping cetaceans in captivity
In 2019, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act became law in Canada. Two facilities would be affected, Marineland of Canada and the Vancouver Aquarium. When passed in June 2019, Marineland was reported to have 61 cetaceans, while the Vancouver Aquarium had just one dolphin remaining. The law has a grandfather clause, permitting those cetaceans already in captivity to remain where they are, but breeding and further acquisition of cetaceans is prohibited, subject to limited exceptions.
According to animal rights organizations that monitor the subject, the following jurisdictions have full or partial bans on keeping dolphins in captivity: Bolivia, China, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, India, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the American states California, New York, and South Carolina. Other countries have laws so restrictive that is virtually impossible to keep cetaceans in captivity: Brazil, Luxembourg, Nicaragua, Norway, and the United Kingdom. France tried to ban keeping or breeding cetaceans in captivity in 2017, but the ban was overturned on technical grounds by the Conseil d'État in 2018. On 29 September 2020, Environment Minister Barbara Pompili announced that France's three remaining dolphinariums would be closed within the next 7 to 10 years, and no new dolphinariums could be opened, and no new marine mammals could be bred or imported. A month earlier on 31 August 2020, the Brussels Capital Region (which doesn't currently have any dolphinariums), announced it was working on a ban on any future creation of dolphinariums to safeguard the welfare of any marine mammals that might end up being kept within its territory.
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