If there remained any doubt that captivity kills, the recent death of a calf in a Japanese aquarium should remove it all.
The female bottlenose calf was born at the Nagoya aquarium on September 24. Her mother was Lulu, a dolphin who was captured in the brutal drive hunts of Taiji, according to CetaBase. After days of harassment by Lulu, the tiny dolphin expired - only four days old. In the photos, you can see what look like rake marks, and some that appear to be bleeding.
It is exceedingly rare for mother dolphins in the wild to practice infanticide, or the killing of one’s own child. However, it is a major concern for captive cetaceans, as any aquarium employee can tell you. Accounts are numerous of mothers who refuse to nurse their infant, who ignore them, try to drown them or - as appears to be the case with Lulu – biting and harassing them to death.
Aquarium officials like to explain this as the result of first-time mothers who simply don’t know how to be good parents. But that logic is highly questionable. A more likely reason for this type of violence lies within the traumatic scars of being separated from one’s family, watching and listening to them die one by one, and being removed permanently from one’s home. Or it could be that Lulu did not want her child to endure the endless pain and suffering of captivity.
We will never know her reasons. But what we do know is that humanity’s use and abuse of dolphins causes incredible suffering: suffering that we continue to pay for, as the demand for captive cetacean entertainment continues to grow.
Photos credit @mksbk