A captive dolphin is swimming in a pool that was designed so visitors are guaranteed to see it

The dark side of dolphinariums: 5 alarming facts you should know



Despite increased awareness of the horrific circumstances in dolphinariums worldwide, establishments and travel companies continue profiting from their anguish.

Sadly, some big operators, including TUI, still sell holiday packages that include cruel captive dolphin entertainment.

Help us Flip the Script and tell TUI to stop exploiting dolphins, who endure unimaginable conditions in captivity.

You can sign a petition, raise awareness on your social channels and use your voice to make a real difference.

Let’s end this cruelty together.

To give you an idea of just how much captive dolphins suffer, we have rounded up 5 shocking facts about the establishments that sell dolphin entertainment.

Breeding dolphins for entertainment is not conservation

80% of captive dolphins are non-endangered bottlenose dolphins and they are bred to be entertainers rather than with any intention of release. While some claim that public display venues prioritise conservation, the reality is far from it.

Only a small fraction, around 5 to 10%, of these facilities are involved in meaningful conservation programs, and the funding allocated to such initiatives is often negligible, constituting less than 1% of their income. Most venues are commercial businesses profiting from dolphins trained to perform for tourists.

This raises important questions about the ethical treatment of captive dolphins and the genuine commitment to conservation efforts in these establishments.

Captive dolphins live in tanks that are 200k times smaller than their natural habitat

Imagine this: the largest tank in dolphin facilities, on average, is a mere 444m² —smaller than a basketball court but slightly bigger than an IMAX cinema screen. Now, picture the vast expanse of the ocean, where a dolphin’s home range typically spans around 100 square kilometres, sometimes even up to 400 square kilometres.

The standard tank in a dolphinarium is roughly 200,000 times smaller than the natural space these dolphins should be calling home. It’s like squeezing an entire universe into a tiny teacup... with no way out.

Captive dolphins entertaining tourists in a small pool at night

Drugging concerns

Captive dolphins often receive antibiotics to prevent infections, especially during stressful times. They are also often given strong medicines for common issues like ulcers and fungal infections caused by stress and poor living conditions.

Benzodiazepines (such as Valium) are sometimes given to calm individuals during handling and transport, and when transferred animals need to get used to a new enclosure or social group.

Questionable and unethical training methods

Dolphins perform perform purely for fun? Absolutely not.

To train dolphins to perform, food is usually used as a reward and sometimes hunger is deliberately induced so the reward will be effective. At a dolphin show it is very obvious that the dolphins’ attention is fixed on the buckets of food at the edge of the pools.

Their rewards and diets primarily consist of frozen, thawed fish, which offer significantly lower nutritional value compared to live fish. This can also lead to other significant health problems often masked by vitamins and other pills to prevent illness in an environment where their needs can never be met.

Captive dolphins entertaining a group of people

Mental health is a thing for dolphins, too

Contrary to the idyllic image often presented to the public, the truth about dolphins in captivity is far from joyful and harmonious. The early separation of dolphin mothers and calves inflicts lifelong distress and trauma on both.

Stress-induced behaviours like head-bobbing and circling are distressingly common in sea parks, leading to aggression and harm among dolphins. The repetitive nature of performing the same tricks day after day as well as the loud noises from crowds, water pumps and filters takes a toll on their mental and emotional welfare.

Do you have a problem with the fact that TUI promotes this cruel captivity as a fun, family-friendly day out?

It's high time we speak up about the profound suffering endured by these intelligent beings and took a stand against such practices.

Flip the Script ►

Image credits: Hero image by Jo-Anne McArthur and first image by Carol Slater Photography