The main attraction at Hong Kong's Ocean Park is a dolphin show with an earnest message about humans and animals living in harmony.
Yet, David Wong of Hong Kong animal rights group Animal Earth says the shows are "detrimental to moral thinking." He also says that the very act of capturing the animals strips people of all respect that they may have for animals. There was an anti-dolphin show campaign by local animal rights groups in the summer of 2012. They wanted the public to be able to monitor the treatment of dolphins to ensure the marine mammals are respected.
“The business model of exploiting captive animals for fun and profit is one of the most morally inferior human activities. We have an ultimate goal of zero captive animals for entertaining humans," says Wong. The activist envisions a future Ocean Park that floats on open waters, bringing tourists out to nature rather than "bringing dolphins into prison.
Here is one incident. Rumors were spread when a video was posted on Facebook in May 2012 showing 14-year-old Indo-Pacific bottlenose Pinky throwing herself against a pool wall. Although it is difficult to discern exactly what is being portrayed in the video, many say that this was a suicidal attempt.
The park said the jumping action in the video was a “unique but frequent habit of Pinky. There are many cases documented where captive dolphins deliberately hurt themselves when under stress.
It is unethical and abhorrent to do so in light of the alternatives available to learn about and enjoy these animals in their natural environment, and considering the inhumane methods required to capture, transport and maintain them in captivity. Captivity is not educational, it is cruel.
We cannot read the minds of these animals, but we know enough to validate their emotions, ability to suffer (sentience), their needs and their right to a life free from pain, stress and manipulation for our entertainment.