This is beyond inhumane.
Though it is possible for dolphins to survive out of the water, it is unnatural and inhumane for them to do so for extended periods of time. According to Femke Den Haas, founder of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), this is because gravity causes the mammals pain and because noise can be excruciating without water as a buffer. She told The Dodo:
“Dolphins are supposed to live in the ocean where their bodies are light. When they’re out of the water, gravity hurts them. The noise would also hurt them, and the extreme stress they are exposed to is killing them.”
When Den Haas said this, she was referring to footage which shows dolphins with an Indonesian traveling circus being transported from Jakarta to Balikpanan in less-than-ideal conditions.
The video shows at least one dolphin being laid across a fabric stretcher that hung low inside a dry, coffin-like box. After it was fitted in the harnesses, a damp towel (which quickly became dry due to evaporation) was draped across the dolphin’s back. As the animal is being moved into the plane’s cargo hold (below), another dolphin can be heard in the crate nearby, clicking and whistling. Both were being transported to perform in another circus show.
The stressful travel in addition to the rigorous demand from their trainers makes it easy to comprehend why dolphins live substantially shorter lives in captivity than they do in the wild. In the wild, a dolphin can live up to 40 years. In captivity, however, a four or five-year lifespan is average, says Den Haas.
JAAN and Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project are collaborating to put an end to the Indonesian traveling circus industry. By putting pressure on Sriwijaya Air, the airline that currently transports the dolphins, activists hope that change will be realized.
Reportedly, a similar incident was captured on film in 2013. Commented Den Haas:
“We obtained similar footage in 2013, when Garuda [another airline] was transporting dolphins from Bali to Java. Gardua has since declared to never transport captive dolphins again.”
“It makes me angry that this is still happening,” she added. “It’s a dolphin’s worst nightmare,” Den Haas added.
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