In countries such as Hungary, Costa Rica and Chile, dolphins have been recognized as nonhuman persons. India’s government recently followed suit and is now starting to close down dolphin parks and has prohibited catching and importing the animals for entertainment purposes.
As early as 1993, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Thailand, among others, shut down dolphinariums (aquariums for dolphins) and made an effort to ban the capture and commercial trade of these beloved marine mammals, since it’s becoming increasingly apparent that such practices are animal abuse.
Other nations, however, are still far behind in recognizing the rights of dolphins and other cetaceans, such as whales. The U.S. still has 30 facilities holding cetaceans captive, while Japan keeps 600 dolphins in 65 facilities.
In 2010, several scientists wrote the Declaration of Rights of Cetaceans in which they stated that all cetaceans as persons “have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing.”
Scientists have long suspected that cetaceans, which include dolphins, porpoises and whales, are creatures of high intelligence and emotional empathy. Their research has concluded that cetaceans exhibit complex behaviors that put them on par with human beings and, as such, they deserve to be protected by a bill of rights.
Research has shown that dolphins and whales have intricate vocal communication. Indeed, they have specific names and use unique whistles to call each other. The specific whistles were recorded and played back to members of a pod and then again for members of another dolphin group. Dolphins have the ability to recognize their own reflections, understand abstract concepts and utilize tools….
Dolphins and Orcas have displayed impressive evidence of organized thought and have been observed caring for an injured member of their pod for as long as a year. They have also been observed aiding fishermen in exchange for a portion of the catch.
Taking all this research into consideration, dolphins, in many ways, seem more humane than humans do. It’s a real shame then that the U.S. is still so far behind in asserting these noble beings’ rights.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi