Is dolphin-assisted therapy cruel?

New Scientist again challenges assumptions – in a more serious vein this time – asking about the effects of dolphin-assisted therapy (DAT) on the dolphins. Humans with autism, depression and all kinds of illnesses are presumed to benefit a great deal from swimming with dolphins, but our intelligent neighbors to the sea might well be getting the short end of the stick on this one:

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society has called for a total ban on DAT. They claim there is no scientific evidence that the therapy works, that it’s a waste of people’s money, that the industry is unregulated, and that the practice is cruel to dolphins.

According to WDCS, the dolphins used in the centres are often removed from the wild, which reduces their life expectancy and can kill them.

1 Comment

  1. Back in elementary school, we went to a three-day camp in the Florida Keys. As part of the camp, I got to swim with dolphins. The experience wasn’t especially therapeutic. In fact, after having the trip built up over a couple months, it was anticlimactic. It was fun being pulled around in the gulf by the dolphins but I think I would have had just as much fun on a skateboard being pulled by a dog.

    So, ditch the dolphins and get some dogs. Unlike dolphins, dogs are plentiful and cheap. And some skateboards. Don’t forget the skateboards.

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