PHOENIX, AZ—The Animal Defense League of Arizona (ADLA) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) have launched a digital campaign aimed at discouraging the public from buying tickets to attractions that exploit captive dolphins. Through the campaign, the organizations are specifically targeting potential customers of Dolphinaris, an entertainment facility that opened last year near Scottsdale, Arizona, and offers swim-with-dolphin activities.
A 20-second video at the heart of the campaign, illustrated and animated by graphic artist Nanna Påskesen and marketed by Elected Digital’s Josh Zaragoza, contrasts the lives of dolphins in the wild with those in confinement. In the video, dolphins move from a free swim in the ocean to a swim in a tank in captivity, where visitors prod and interact with them. The end message reads,“Dolphins dream of freedom, not living in captivity for your entertainment. …Stop and think.”
“There is nothing natural about concrete tanks in the desert for dolphins,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist for AWI. “While it may be understandable to want to bring these amazing animals closer to where we live, it is not in their best interests. We should think about this from the dolphins’ point of view.”
Owned and operated by Mexico-based Ventura Entertainments, Dolphinaris is the first captive dolphin attraction to be builtin the United States in a decade. Meeting only minimal federal standards, the concrete tank at the facility is a mere 10 feet deep, with little shade to protect eight captive-born dolphins from the desert sun.Since Dolphinaris is on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community tribal land, members of the public—some of whom protested prior to the facility’s opening—essentially had no input in the permitting process.
“We were stunned to learn that a captive swim with dolphin facility was going up in Arizona. It’s the wrong place and wrong time for this attraction,” said ADLA president Stephanie Nichols-Young. “ADLA encourages Arizonans to go to the Sea of Cortez, our Pacific Ocean, to see dolphins—an experience that is less expensive and more enjoyable.”
Holding whales and dolphins in confinement for entertainment has come under intense scrutiny and global condemnation. A 2016 statewide poll revealed that more Arizonans oppose than support the practice of keeping dolphins in captivity for interactive programs and entertainment. Nearly half of the 700 polled adults (49%) opposed holding dolphins in tanks so that people can pay to swim with them, compared to only a third (32%) who supported it. This campaign is targeted in particular to the remaining fifth of the public who are undecided. Learn more about ADLA’s Dolphin Anti-Captivity Campaign.