Enforce Regulations at Dolphin Swim Facilities

Target: Barbara Kohn (APHIS, Senior Staff Veterinarian, Animal Care)

Goal: Enforce regulations to protect dolphins involved in ‘Swim with the Dolphins’ programs

Today, there are approximately 16 operating facilities that offer ‘Swim with the Dolphins’ (SWTD) programs in the U.S. However, there are no official governing policies to protect these dolphins from unhealthy and unsafe behaviors and environments. Please urge the Animal and Planet Health Inspection Services (APHIS) to enact laws to defend these beautiful animals from harm.

Dolphins are well-regarded as one of the most intelligent living creatures. They are highly sensitive and perceptive. However, these SWTD programs do not provide dolphins with ideal environments. In 1995, APHIS suggested certain amendments for the Animal Welfare Act. This act proposed two refuge areas away from the public, limitations of three humans per dolphin, a maximum allotted time of two hours per day, and other regulations for dolphin training. By 1998, the final amendments were published, but only six months later, the regulations were suspended. Thus, these SWTD programs, for 13 years, have been policing themselves. Unfortunately, very few programs follow the previously mandated rules because they want to increase their revenue and have very little interest in the well-being of these dolphins.

There are countless stories that demonstrate a dolphin’s capacity and complexity in intelligence and emotions. Though wild animals should be kept in their natural habitats, if they are brought into captivity, we must try to mimic their natural environments to the best of our abilities. Having dolphins cramped in close quarters and forcing them to work hours on end is unnatural. These dolphins bring joy to people who participate in the SWTD programs and it is only right that APHIS reinstates regulations to protect these beautiful creatures so that they can feel the same joy as we do when they’re roaming in these facilities.


Dear Barbara Kohn:

Dolphins involved in the ‘Swim with the Dolphins’ programs have had no regulations to protect them for 13 years. For over a decade, these dolphins have been forced to work under potentially harmful, unsafe, and unhealthy environments and situations. Since there are no official laws, these institutions have been policing themselves. With no regulations, these programs have focused on increasing profits rather than the well-being and happiness of these poor dolphins themselves.

In 1995, APHIS proposed amendments to help protect the dolphins in these SWTD programs; however, it took nearly 3 years to publish them. Unfortunately, only six months later, these amendments were scrapped. By enforcing these regulations, we could ensure good working and living conditions for the dolphins. There are over 16 facilities that participate in the SWTD programs so the impact of these newly reinstated regulations would have a huge impact on the lives of these poor dolphins. Please allow these dolphins to regain the freedom that they lost with laws that will help protect their well-being while in captivity.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Digi-Jo via Flickr

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