It’s time to create a new relationship to animals whose brainpower may be as sophisticated and complex as our own.
At the end of July, last year, I went to the opening of the movie The Cove in New York. It was not a big, red-carpet opening. The theater was only half full, and the director, Louie Psihoyos, was standing at the door shaking hands with all of us who were there, asking us all to encourage our friends and families to go see the movie, too. The trailer was designed to promote it as an action/thriller kind of movie, so people wouldn’t think of it as some hard-to-watch animal rights educational film.
Early box-office results weren’t the greatest, but The Cove got rave reviews, gathered steam, found an audience all over the world, and ended up winning an Academy Award for best documentary – with the iconic photo of Ric O’Barry, the former dolphin trainer turned activist, standing on the stage holding up a poster asking the TV audience to “Text DOLPHIN to 44144.”
This fall, The Cove gave birth to a new TV series, "Blood Dolphins," on Animal Planet. Ric O’Barry and his film-maker son, Lincoln, make an engaging pair as they fly around the world from one hot spot to another to save dolphins from the entertainment industry: first Taiji, the scene of the infamous dolphin drive hunt in The Cove; then to the Solomon Islands; and then to Egypt, the Faroe Islands, and other places where dolphins suffer at the hands of humans.
The Cove and "Blood Dolphins" are just part of a new wave of human consciousness about dolphin consciousness, and our awareness that it’s time to create a whole new relationship to animals whose brainpower may be as sophisticated and complex as our own … possibly even more so.
That means it’s time to shut down the dolphin massacres around the world and bring an end to keeping dolphins in captivity for the entertainment and research industries, a practice that, in many ways, supports these brutal slaughters. Instead, it’s time to observe these amazing animals peacefully in their own homes and on their own terms, to learn from each other, and to forge a new relationship based on respect and on advancing the mutual fascination that our two species share with each other.
But how do we begin to put right what we’ve made wrong? How do we take dolphins who have known nothing or almost nothing but captivity and help them begin a new life in their own world, the ocean?
It would not be easy, but experts say it can be done. And one of the prime candidates for such a release is 40 years old and has lived most of her life at the Miami Seaquarium since she and other orcas in her family were captured off the coast of Washington State.
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