Seaworld trainer sets dolphins free
with the industry, a controversial marine mammal trainer has decided to
set his last 17 dolphins free.
Porter trained Tilikum, the orca responsible for the death of his SeaWorld
trainer last month, when he was living at Sealand of the Pacific in Canada.
He says it was the death of veteran whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, at
SeaWorld in Orlando that prompted the change of heart. “I have been
decided to release the remaining animals back into the wild,” Porter
told the Vancouver Sun. Porter owns a lucrative business, capturing animals
in the Solomon Islands and selling them to aquariums. He has sold 83 dolphins
around the world over the last nine years.
was petting Tilikum after a show when she was pulled into the orca tank
by her ponytail and shaken around. The coroner determined her official cause
of death was multiple traumatic injuries and drowning. Autopsy results released
yesterday ruled her death an accident. Mr Porter said the incident shook
him and proved trainers are unable to cater to the needs of such an intelligent
animal. Though he used to believe some animals must be captive educational
ambassadors for their species, he is beginning to doubt the value of shows
where animals are forced to perform tricks and rewarded with food. “Are
we really educating and providing the best representation for these animals
in an aquarium?” asked Mr Porter.
become frustrated with the artificial, sterile environment they are kept
in, which bears little resemblance to their natural habitat. Their frustration
increases the chance they will lash out, Mr Porter said. He credits Oscar-winning
documentary The Cove, which raised awareness to the bloody capture and slaughter
of dolphins in Japan, as another catalyst in his decision to quit. Mr Porter’s
project in the Solomons initially set out to save dolphins, which were being
slaughtered by thousands of islanders there who use their teeth as currency.
He told the Vancouver Sun hunters have now been educated to realise there
can be much larger value in dolphins.
I got [to the Solomons] a dolphin was worth $20,” he says.
year dolphins were worth $140,000.”
debate around marine mammal captivity has reignited in the wake of last
month’s death and Porter’s venture, Free
the Pod, is likely to have strong support from animal rights activists
and marine biologists opposing their capture.
of Mr Porter’s former fiercest opponents, Earth Island Institute marine
mammal specialist Ric O’Barry, is likely to provide high profile support.
Mr O’Barry trained dolphins for the Flipper television series in the
1960s, before dedicating himself to freeing captive dolphins.
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