End captivity

Why are we still putting whales and dolphins in small tanks for entertainment?

These highly intelligent individuals should not suffer for human "fun". You can help end the cruel exploitation of whales and dolphins in marine parks around the world.

What is life like for a captive whale or dolphin?

In the wild, whales and dolphins live in complex family groups – with generations often staying together their whole lives. They know the changing sea conditions as day turns to night, the tides ebb and flow, and the seasons change. Life in an aquarium is devoid of tides, moonlight, sun, and seasons. Whales and dolphins are often separated from their families, and some are even kept alone. For an individual whose normal routine is to swim hundreds of miles each day, a tank is a prison cell.

How does captivity affect whales and dolphins?

We can’t know what it feels like to be a whale or dolphin, but the individuals who have spent years in captivity display behaviors which demonstrate frustration and boredom, and even show physiological signs of stress.

  • Shorter lives – the death rate for captive orcas is 2.5 times higher than in the wild. Bottlenose dolphins and belugas also have higher death rates in captivity than in the wild.
  • Attacks – frustration can cause captive whales and dolphins to attack each other and sometimes trainers and members of the public.
  • Repetitive behaviors – in confinement, whales and dolphins may swim endlessly in circles, lie on the floor of the tank for many hours, chew on the sides of the pool, and repeat the same patterns of behavior.
  • Dorsal fin collapse – orcas kept in tanks spend most of their time swimming in endless circles, causing their tall dorsal fins to collapse to one side. Dorsal fin collapse happens to 1% of wild orcas. 100% of captive male adult orcas have collapsed dorsal fins.
  • Drugs – some parks give captive whales and dolphins tranquilizers to relieve stress.

How your support can help

  • Stop the capture – By supporting WDC, you can help us put pressure on governments to ban the capture of wild whales and dolphins.
  • End the demand – By seeing whales and dolphins responsibly in the wild, rather than visiting them in captivity, you can help reduce the economic incentives to keep whales and dolphins captive.
  • Create sanctuaries – You can help provide alternative, more natural homes for captive whales and dolphins where they can enjoy improved health and welfare and even be prepared for release into the wild. Find out more.

Successes

  • Captivity banned in India – WDC supporters like you helped us work with local campaigners to persuade the Indian government to ban whale and dolphin captivity.
  • Virgin bans wild captures – Thanks to WDC campaigning, the Virgin group pledged to make sure its partners who run aquariums no longer take whales and dolphins from the wild.
  • US beluga whale import stopped – WDC supporters helped stop captured beluga whales being imported into the United States.

Dive deeper

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Orcas in Captivity

Find out more about the fate of captive Orcas and the current numbers in captivity and what you can do to help.

Swimming with Dolphins

Find out more about the impact of swimming with dolphins, the alternatives and how you can help.

 

Beluga whale

The Forgotten Whales and Dolphins

Find out more about problems surrounding captive whales and dolphins and the negative impacts on those involved.

Please care for whales and dolphins by taking action today.

Today there are more than 3,000 whales and dolphins held captive in aquariums, zoos and marine parks. Help us end captivity now.

Our campaigns

Whales and dolphins continue to be captured and imprisoned in marine parks around the world for one reason: they make money for big corporations. Help fight for whale and dolphin freedom today.

Creating sanctuaries

More than 3,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises are held in tanks. If we want to end captivity, we need sanctuaries where they can live the rest of their lives in a more natural environment or be rehabilitated for release. We are creating the world's first beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland.

Make a difference- help us end captivity

By adopting a whale, joining our team, making a donation, or shopping for a cause, you can help us save these amazing creatures from a life in confinement.

Save the whales, save the world.

Humpback whale spyhop

Adopt

Adopt a whale and help us protect these amazing creatures.

Bottlenose dolphin calf

Join

You can join our team and help us save whales and dolphins

Breaching North Atlantic right whale

Donate

Your gifts help us take action for whales and dolphins.

Orca spyhop

Shop

Support WDC by shopping for yourself or a friend.