(SEAWORLD/CAPTIVE DOLPHINS) SeaWorld recently announced its visitors will no longer be given the opportunity to hand-feed fish to captive dolphins in response to backlash after an unsuspecting child was bitten by one of the park’s dolphins in 2012.
In the past, guests of all ages were able to pay a small fee of just $7 to feed the dolphins unsupervised. It’s no surprise SeaWorld is exhibiting a major decline in ticket sales since the documentary Blackfish was released in 2013.
But the dolphins aren’t in the clear just yet. Even though SeaWorld is ending its public dolphin feeding program, it will be offering a reservation-only package for $15 that allows small groups to spend time touching and interacting with dolphins, but prohibits feeding them.
SeaWorld’s spokesperson Becca Bides claims the new revamped program is similar to those at the company’s parks in San Diego and San Antonio, where dolphin feedings have always taken place under direct trainer supervision.
However, many issues can occur when allowing untrained tourists to touch, feed, and swim with dolphins at marine parks.
After the footage of a 9-year-old girl, who was bitten by a dolphin at SeaWorld Orlando during the dolphin feedings, was released in 2012, many people referred to the dolphin exhibit as unsafe for young children.
There’s no question that close interactions with dolphins–or any wild animals for that matter–can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are not given the necessary space. When animals are deprived of their freedom and natural surroundings, they can grow increasingly frustrated, which can contribute to sudden, and sometimes violent behavior.
While SeaWorld is making some positive changes, these extremely sensitive and intelligent animals deserve more than to spend their lives in concrete tanks, performing unnatural tricks for tourists.