The enlightened call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results.

— Krishna in The Gita

The mind is everything. What you think you become.
— Buddha

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Thinking of dolphins

The other day I went to see a dolphin show. The show was fantastic to say the least; one has to see the synchronised, high-spirited frolic and performance of these wonderful sea creatures to realise that Nature is full of intelligent, talented animals.
The dolphins, six of them (or was it eight?), passed balls, danced and waved their tails, somersaulted in the air and presented breathtaking acrobatics in the tank. The spectators, including myself, watched them mesmerised, bursting into applause and hoots of joy every now and then.
But, on the sideline, I couldn’t help notice that throughout the show the dolphins were being fed fish by the conductors. One trick over and here goes the fish, tossed right into the eager mouths of the dolphins. I couldn’t figure out why they should be fed during the show, and not before or after. I was then told that dolphins were starved until the show during which they were fed as a reward for their performance.
That little bit if information was enough to needle me for the rest of the show, even though I kept enjoying it and missed my daughter. I also thought fleetingly whether the pool, with its chlorinated water, was where the huge sea mammals should be in. And the music, loud and foot-tapping—what about that? I for one hate loud noise of any kind. Dolphins are said to be extremely sensitive; were they enjoying the music?
Later I did some research on the Internet and here is what I found:
1. Dolphins perform not because they enjoy, but because they are starved.
2. They injure themselves during the performances, and the chlorinated water worsens their wounds and also makes them slowly lose their sight.
3. The loud noise is extremely harmful to the Dolphins which stresses them out. Dolphins are “echolocators”, that is they locate objects by emitting sounds and detecting the reflections given back. When they are confined in a small pool they can’t use echo-location. “It's like putting a person in a small drum and shouting loudly,” says an expert.
4. The pool is too small for the dolphins, whose physiology are built for the wide open seas. Think of having to stay cooped up in a tiny room day in and day out.

Having said that, am I asking you to boycott dolphin shows? Not exactly. It’s a choice every individual has to make for themselves, you know, much like giving up non-veg or dairy products or fur.
But will I bring my daughter to the show? Well, no. There are many ways to amuse ourselves other than seeing these lovely creatures performing in captivity, out of fear and hunger.


  1. Freedom is a fundamental right. Humans shout about it a lot. What about the other living beings? Has anyone thought about why should one not keep a pet? Making some one a pet - is that not violating the fundamental right of that being? To chain, to confine ... is it right ...
    Glad you wrote this post. I am taking it to further heights by my comment.

  2. i wish someone like Menka Gandhi listens to this n do some needful......:)

  3. I guess this is applicable to zoos and keeping pets as well. Animals are best kept in their own habitats. I totally agree. My kids have been asking for birds in cages for sometime now. We refused to buy them. But I place bowls of water and rice in my balcony. All kinds of birds visit us daily. Some of them are regulars. :) Kids love the idea. :)

    Nice thought provoking post. :)

  4. Thank you for the comment on my post Neena,
    Regarding this post I think human beings are the greediest lot and they misuse anything and everything for their selfish gain. Poor animals are subjected and tortured for entertainment.I will not go for any shows where animals are the performers.

  5. very meaningful post boss..:)a big thanks on behalf of the speechless penguin friends..

  6. That was a very useful info...glad u did the research!!

  7. Hi Neena,

    While you started with a great entertainment and enjoyment you ended with profound thoughts on the subject.

    It is not only in the case of these poor dolphins but there are many other attractions where man is cruel to animals.I can remember the lions and tigers in the circus,people having birds as pets in cages,monkeys chained to perform tricks,chained elephants in temple festivals etc.

    Once I closely watched elephants in a temple festival.I noticed their legs were very closely chained so that they cannot move their legs.Whenever an elephants tried to move a leg the mahout beat the leg with a bamboo stick.The elephants were made to stand like that for hours together till the ceremony is over.No one is bothered.In Kerala there are any number of festivals like this with plenty of tortured elephants.Of course,the elephants once in a while take revenge on the mahout by trampling him to death.Some times they run amok in the crowds destroying things on the way.Yet there is absolutely no question of stopping these festivals with elephants.

    Best wishes,

  8. thoughtful and realistic post

  9. To confine is bad, but to hurt for your entertainment is worse..I would nevr go for any show now...Thanks for making me aware!!

  10. Well, the fun of watching is taken away with your post! :p I might not boycott the show. But, it is going to prick my mind!

  11. Hello!
    I agree with You.Thank You very much for sharing.

  12. age sure is catching up..sorry i wrote penguin instead of dolphin..hehe

  13. I appreciate that you spend time to research and write about those living-being who can not speak for themselves. your post is eye-opening and I am confident that when kids learn about this, they would not want to see dolphin show.

  14. well where was this show, cause i have seen the dolphin shows in Singapore , australia etc and the dolphins are perfectly healthy .. and the pools are very very big for them to do all the acts they are to do ..

    the fish given to them was as a ward, since on talking to the trainers the dolphins were regularly monitored and take care of ...


  15. The truth is dolphins in the wild live up to 40 years or more, while a dolphin's life span in captivity is an estimated average of around 8 years.
    Dolphins in the wild swim 40 to 100 miles everyday and can stay under water for up to about 30 minutes at a time, while dolphins in captivity swim in circles and spend most of their time on the surface of the water in their dismally shallow swimming pool filled with chlorine.
    They just perform the trained activities because,like you said,they are starved and would do anything for the dead fish.Many dolphins get injured during these performances.They have a naturally smiling face which misleads us,but I don't think they enjoy what they are forced to do.

  16. .

    Be it pets, circus , elephants in temples, or in zoos , i am totally against any kind of captivity for animals.

    I wonder, how come human beings become so insensitive towards these helpless creatures.

    I am very much against such cruel shows.


  17. Dear Neena,
    I have been following your blog since the beginning though dint send in my comments. Most of your blogs have been excellent and very thought provoking. You have written on a variety of subjects from films to books to spirituality to human behaviour to politics to philanthropy etc.... I love reading your blogs and hope you will continue doing so for a long time. I was also very happy to read your earlier blog regarding new year resolutin and your conviction and optimism that 2011 will bring lot of good things in your life. I do hope god will bless you with all that you wanted - by now reading your blogs I could deduct that that it is not the material things that you are wishing for. I pray that 2011 bring you all the peace, happiness and best of health. I am sure once you have these things material things will automatically follow.
    Good luck and good blogging.
    Patrick Nandi