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by Marlene Harris

Summer 2001   —   Dolphinarium For Granby?

Recent reports have stated that Quebec’s Granby Zoo is looking into the possibility of creating a dolphinarium on the site, despite protests by both conservationists and animal rights activists.

Granby officials are defending their plan by saying that the aim will be to provide zootherapy, (a type of therapeutic interaction between people and animals.) Guests will be permitted to swim with the dolphins, for a fee of course. Protesters cite the development of such facilities as archaic, and extremely inhumane for the unfortunate creatures forced to live within their confines. While other oceanaria are ending the practice of captive whale and dolphin programs, Granby seems determined to step back in time.

Not simply a matter of emotion, protests have been made in scientific quarters as well. Dr. Pierre Beland, a well-known and highly respected whale biologist registered firm opposition to Granby’s plan, explaining that dolphins and whales, highly migratory in nature, need vast space in which to navigate; their highly evolved sonar travels over huge distances, and being confined in a small space is, to them, extremely disorienting, disrupting their sonar capabilities severely. A comparison was made between their plight and someone being forced to remain in a tiny room, with a crowd of people shouting simultaneously; the results of being confined in such an environment are obvious. Beland alluded to the fact that dolphins are sometimes highly aggressive when in captivity, probably due in no small part to these terrible conditions.

Granby officials stated that they would be “using” dolphins already in captivity, and would not be taking any from the wild. Although this addresses the well known cruelty associated with the live capture process, it does not at all address the above concerns regarding the suffering endured by these wonderful creatures confined to a captive existence.

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