Nearly 120,000 people are backing a petition, set up by 15-year-old Olivia Mandle, that calls for the Spanish government to shut down dolphinariums in the country.
Spain has the most dolphinariums in the EU, with 11 parks showcasing captive cetaceans. One of the most infamous is Loro Parque, which was featured in Blackfish, a Netflix documentary that focused on US marine park Seaworld and the dangers and ethics of keeping orcas in captivity.
Like orcas, dolphins need a lot of space to swim around. In the wild, they can swim up to 80 miles a day. But in captivity, on average, they have around 200,000 times less space, says World Animal Protection.
This means they cannot engage in their natural behaviors. And as a result, they can get bored, aggressive, and even self-harm.
In the petition, Mandle writes: “These dolphins do not deserve a life like this. They deserve to go to a marine sanctuary where they really help them to regain their instincts and recover actions such as searching for food.”
“They, like any animal in captivity, deserve to get as close as possible to freedom.”
Ending dolphin captivity
Mandle also refers to Barcelona’s decision in 2018 to become a dolphin captivity-free city. It was a start. But as the teen notes, the animals that lived there have simply been moved to another dolphinarium in a different country. She is calling for Spain to set an example and ban dolphin captivity altogether.
“It is not normal to lock these animals in small pools day and night for the rest of their lives,” Mandle writes.
The UK, Chile, India, Costa Rica, Norway, and Brazil are among the countries that have already banned dolphin captivity.
In 2020, the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program recognized Mandle as a “mini-heroine.” The young activist set up the dolphinarium petition when she was 13, but it is still gaining significant traction. To add your name, click here.