Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are Dolphins too Intelligent for Captivity?

A new article in the latest edition of Science Magazine , as well as an accompanying podcast discuss a new movement that seeks to end all dolphin research in zoos and aquariums. Research has shown that dolphins can recognize their own reflections- a self-awareness test that only chimpanzees and human routinely pass. These findings, however, raise an unsettling question, if dolphins are potentially as self-aware as humans, how can we keep then in captivity? Do they deserve to have some basic rights protected by law?

On the flip side, captive research of dolphins is both the best way to learn about the intelligence of these creatures, as well as learning about how to protect them in the wild. Its these same captive studies that have lead to our greater understanding of dolphin intelligence, physiology, and our ability to quickly rescue stranded dolphins. Researchers worry that if we end captivity for dolphins, the field of dolphin cognation will also end.

Lori Marino, a researcher who has worked extensively with dolphins, has banded together with scientists, activists, and philosophers to draft the "Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans"

What are your thoughts? Are dolphins deserving of greater protections when a part of research then say, dogs or other large mammals? If so, what kinds of regulation would you support?

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