Dolphin shows no place for field trips, says solonBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Schools should be more careful about where they take their students on educational field trips and among the places they should avoid are amusement parks that feature dolphins, whales and other marine creatures that are held in captivity, according to a militant party-list lawmaker.
In a resolution he filed last week, Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino urged the Department of Education to ban school trips to theme parks that hold such animals in captivity, saying this sends the wrong message to the students and does not really teach them anything that they cannot learn about the creatures in the classroom.
These amusement parks target school officials by offering them bulk discounts or commissions to take their students there, Palatino said.
“Such exhibits risk teaching children the wrong value that extracting wild animals from their natural habitat, keeping them for profit and treating them cruelly are acceptable,” he said in his resolution.
Palatino said keeping dolphins and whales in captivity was “intrinsically cruel” because they are known to experience stress and illness when forced to live in tight unnatural settings and forced to perform tricks.
Many of the animals, he said, are also captured through cruel means.
“The cruel practice of hunting dolphins and whales for consumption and entertainment has not only brought suffering and death to these amazing and intelligent marine mammals, but has deeply affected the ecosystem by displacing species that play critical roles in the environment, and eventually push some species to the brink of extinction,” he said.
According to Palatino, scientific studies have shown that dolphins held in captivity have shorter life spans and die prematurely compared to those left in their natural habitat due to capture shock, exhaustion and stress-related illnesses.
Palatino also said training whales and dolphins usually involved techniques like starving them and then forcing them to perform tricks before they would be given food.
The cetaceans have super sensitive hearing that they use for hunting in the wild. When held in captivity, sounds bounce off the concrete walls of their tanks “in maddening reverberations,” Palatino said. This causes them to suffer and the added noise from the crowds aggravates their stress, he added.
He also noted experts’ claims that the highly intelligent animals suffer depression when taken from their natural habitat.
Palatino said that based on the 2008 Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, eight dolphin subpopulations are considered critically endangered, while two species and three subspecies were classified as endangered.