National Aquarium moving dolphins to seaside sanctuary
MIAMI — The Latest on the National Aquarium’s announcement that its dolphins will be relocated to a seaside sanctuary:
The CEO of Humane Society of the United States says his counterpart at the National Aquarium has “done something terribly important” in deciding to relocate its dolphins to a seaside sanctuary.
In a blog post, Wayne Pacelle says the aquarium’s plans are “more evidence that animal-based facilities” are adapting to cultural shifts and prioritizing the animals’ well-being.
The Humane Society has partnered with SeaWorld on conservation and education programs. But SeaWorld officials say they won’t be following the aquarium’s lead.
In an email, spokeswoman Aimee Jeansonne Becka said SeaWorld’s orcas would be safer and receive better care in their current displays than in “sea cages” that are “high risk.”
She also said dolphins kept by zoos and aquariums help educate the public as “ambassadors for their species and the oceans.”
Animal rights activists are applauding the National Aquarium for deciding to relocate its dolphins to a seaside sanctuary.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized SeaWorld earlier this year for not releasing its orcas from their tanks among other changes at its theme parks.
In a statement Tuesday, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said the Baltimore aquarium could prompt other institutions to retire their dolphins and orcas to sanctuaries as well. She said the aquarium recognized “the needs of intelligent, far-ranging dolphins” aren’t met in captivity.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says each of its members makes decisions “appropriate for the animals” in its care. In a statement, Interim President and CEO Kris Vehrs says the National Aquarium will work with state and federal agencies as it moves forward with the dolphins’ relocation.
Eight dolphins that once performed at the National Aquarium in Baltimore will be retired from their tanks to a seaside sanctuary.
The aquarium is announcing plans to move its Atlantic bottlenose dolphins into a protected habitat by the end of 2020.
Seven of the dolphins were born in captivity. CEO John Racanelli tells The Associated Press the animals will remain in human care in the sanctuary.
The aquarium hasn’t settled on a location. It’s been considering new options for its dolphins for several years amid growing public distaste for live animal shows.
The dolphins stopped scheduled performances in 2012 but remain on display.
SeaWorld is making similar changes to its killer whale shows but has balked along with other industry leaders at releasing orcas or dolphins into the ocean.