Animal Welfare is Being Taken Seriously
by Amy Lignor
Although there are many court battles against corporations like aquariums and zoos across the globe, there are those setting the bar very high for others to follow.
When it comes to the water, it is Baltimore’s National Aquarium that’s taking a huge leap toward the betterment of life for their animals. They are creating a literal “seaside sanctuary” where the aquarium will retire the eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins it has in its care. This aquarium actually put an end to all their dolphin performances back in 2012, even though the animals remained in their tanks for display. But now, they are walking down a new – expensive – path to do what’s absolutely right.
All the dolphins will be living in this, the nation’s first seaside dolphin sanctuary, by 2020. To better define the new home for readers, this sanctuary will be an outdoor, enclosed area of natural sea water, making it a true “natural” habitat for the dolphins instead of being cooped up in a tank. The tropical location will offer much more room and give the dolphins a world filled with other fish and natural plant life.
It is because of this “natural” habitat that it will take until 2020 for the project to be completed. The new environment needs to grow a huge number of natural organisms that aren’t in the tanks the dolphins live in right now. This means that the seawater they will be moved into will have to be introduced to the dolphins in increments into their current tanks so the animals are not shocked when they start swimming in their new home. In addition, being that the animals will have to go by truck and then by plane, the aquarium is introducing these two modes of transport to the dolphins as well. Example: the dolphins spend a night in a holding tank outside every once in a while to get them used to being in the open air for when they are transported. In other words, this will be a hard journey, but when they reach their new home it will be far better for the animal’s future.
Many already know it was SeaWorld that opposed “sea sanctuaries,” stating that a natural environment would be far too dangerous for animals accustomed to tanks. Baltimore Aquarium is one of many that say this idea is simply ridiculous because the dolphins will still have experts near them and veterinary care for life, even when they’re in their natural home. And, in the end, a real environment encompassing hundreds of millions of gallons of seawater is far better and healthier for the dolphins than living in cramped tanks unable to hold more than 1.3 gallons.
Whale and dolphin advocates around the globe are excited about this. Only last year, a toy company (Munchkin) partnered with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation based in the U.K. to pledge $1 million toward an ocean sanctuary for whales. And they are urging SeaWorld to release their orca (that was the subject of the documentary “Blackfish”) to the sanctuary when it’s finished.
Whales and dolphins are intelligent animals. In the wild, they may swim hundreds of miles a day, and it’s simply not humane to confine them to tanks. It is a blessing to see Baltimore’s National Aquarium taking the first step to do what should, and must, be done by all.
Changing course from sea to land…it is the wonderful Indianapolis Zoo that’s closing its polar bear exhibit down and moving Tundra, a 29-year-old polar bear, to better facilities in Detroit. Tundra was born in captivity, therefore releasing her into the wild is not a realistic prospect for her, but the zoo wants to make sure that the quality of her life gets better. By sending Tundra to the Detroit Zoo they are doing just that. In Detroit, large spaces and pools with easy slopes for Tundra to enter and exit the water are given. And seeing as that she’s becoming a senior, Tundra needs an easier and much larger environment to move around in.
Tundra will also have friends in Detroit: Talini, a female polar bear born at that zoo in 2004; and, Nuka, a male who made Detroit his home back in 2011. The Detroit Zoo’s habitat for the polar bears is called the Arctic Ring of Life, and offers four acres that include a 190,000-gallon salt water pool, a fresh water pool, a pack ice area and a grassy tundra…for Tundra. Although Indianapolis will miss a longtime friend, they most certainly deserve a pat on the back for enhancing this polar bear’s life.
Let’s hope everyone out there follows the amazing examples of Baltimore and Indianapolis in the very near future.
Source: Baret News