Documentary: former dolphin trainer reveals hidden cruelty behind the industry
An ex-trainer explains how the captive dolphin industry misleads tourists about animal cruelty
Governments and the travel industry need to show that tourism can be a force for good by banning cruel captivity
Fooled by a smile
Our explosive new documentary centres on the experience of Lorena López, who turned her back on the captive dolphin industry after a successful career as a trainer and is now a dedicated campaigner for the rights of marine mammals.
She reveals how both trainers and tourists are being actively misled by venues, who are willing to do or say anything to maximise profit from the cruelty of keeping these intelligent, social animals locked up.
An industry built on suffering
Dolphins in captivity are forced to endure endless cruelty.
At venues in Mexico, where Lorena worked, dolphins are:
deprived of food as part of the training process for performing
forced to breed and then traumatically separated from their calves at a very young age
used as live surf boards, surrounded by screaming crowds of people with rock-concert volume music
made to endure a never-ending stream of tourists seeking that perfect selfie for social media
forced to live in pools many thousands of times smaller than their natural habitat
A dolphin forced to interact with tourists at an entertainment venue in Mexico
Building back better
There are around 3,000 dolphins in captivity around the world, suffering in the name of entertainment. With tourism halted as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, caused by our exploitation of wild animals, the tourism industry has an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and create a sustainable, cruelty-free future.
Nick Stewart, our global head of campaign - dolphins, says: "Right now, we have a prime opportunity to protect wildlife used as entertainers.
"Governments and the travel industry need to show that tourism can be a force for good, by banning cruel captivity, phasing out support for wildlife entertainment and trade, and supporting the goal to make this the last generation of wild animals to suffer for our entertainment.
“It’s better for animals, people, the planet and ultimately the resilience of the tourism industry itself."
Dr Yolanda Alaniz Pasini, scientist consultant for COMARINO, who is also featured in our documentary, says:
"Currently in Mexico, there are three main activities with dolphins that are fundamentally cruel; the entertainment shows for the public, swimming with dolphins and dolphin assisted therapy – this is all fuelled by the international travel industry and tourists who are paying for suffering."
Ending the cruel global wildlife trade
Dolphins and others wild animals in entertainment are just one part of the vast global trade in wildlife. Beyond the obvious animal welfare concerns, this dangerous industry is also putting us all at risk from zoonotic outbreaks like the COVID-19 pandemic and has a devastating effect on the environment.
For animals, people and planet, we are calling on the G20 and governments the world to end the global wildlife trade. Forever.