Am I really that horrible? An animal ABUSER? *update in red* I decided to do it, and I am thrilled I did!* pics on page 7
So I am on a mini vacation this weekend. My oldest daughter wants to be a marine biologist someday, or that's the case now, she's 9. My mother is a genetics and biology professor. For my 3 girls bdays that are ALL within a few weeks of each other, my mom got them "The dolphin immersion". Not sure why I need to make that clear, but I do. So tomorrow we are going to Marine land posted below. Apparently I made a mistake posting on my FB that this is what I am doing on the AM. I have had several friends, I do mean friends, tell me how awful this is and they cannot BELIEVE an animal advocate would choose to do this. Huh? Am I wrong here? Their research has benefited marine life since the 50's!!!!!! I get that some people don't like to see these animals in a pool, but seriously. I think there are trade offs to all advancement. The lives of animals these people have saved are off the charts by their work an research, and they use this experience to help fund it. I don't know. I am feeling kinda bad, but kinda militant. I have yet to respond to the remarks. I know you all have many varying degrees of opinions on subjects. What do you think? Be honest. I have my big girls panties on! LOL
EDIT. I took them and it was wonderful. Not just because the experience was amazing, but because we were able to learn things about the dolphins and such that one may never know without this experience. The 1.3 gal pools they live in are pristine, the trainers are clearly knowledgable and love these animals with all their heart. My mom had mentioned to the person we checked on with that her oldest grandchild is obsessed with becoming a marine biologist and working with dolphins someday. (Right now she is writing a report on the Atlantic Bottle Nosed Dolphin after making me get her 15 books from the library, by her own choice, not for school)
Anyway, after we met our trainer she asked who is "Rylie". She raised her hand and the trainer says, I hear you are extremely interested in becoming a dolphin conservationist and trainer? Rylie of course launched in to everything she has learned and read in the last month and year or so, and about her report. The trainer kindly interrupted her excited babble and said, we love it when kids like you come in, you and I will talk after your tour is over.
They did a tour of the habitats and introduced us to all of the residents, told us all about the facility and the work being done their in conjunction with the Georgia Aquarium, who now owns them and has a field office directly across the street. Explained the dangers dolphins in the wild face, mostly due to humans, and so on. Then we were able to get in the big pool. It was just, ugh, no words. Amazing!!!! You can see the bond these animals have with their trainers and how it is reciprocated. My girls loved every second. I can't wait to get home so I can edit the pictures. (My mom bought the CD for us, so I have the copywrite. )
Then when the others were getting dressed 3 trainers approached us and asked if it was okay to take Rylie on a tour of the back. Are you kidding me?!? Of course it is!! They took her and showed her the schedules they keep, their food diaries, health logs, training schedules, behavior reports, what has to be done each and everyday, what they do when they get a call for an injured or stranded dolphin , what happens if the dolphin had already passed. You name it. They even had her help portion out some dinner for a few. Then our original trainer explained the educational goals she needs to have and keep. What it takes. Explained that even though she has been in the field for 5 years, after completing her psychology degree, 4 of that was volunteering and competing to get an internship. She has only been paid for 1 year now and the rest was long hours volunteering and being a bartender to make ends meet. She also said she wouldn't change it for anything. She really drove home what kind of dedication was involved in this field.
I am so grateful to them. They didn't have to take the time to talk and engage my daughter, especially at 9.5, but they did. I've never seen my daughter so mesmerized and full of passion. I love it! I would recommend visiting here if you can.
I truly appreciate all the replies, videos, links, etc. I was able to look at some prior to making my final decision, but I couldn't find anything disparaging about this place of current concern. The last time they took in a wild captured dolphin was over 40 years ago. I know they didn't start out as a conservatory, they were a Hollywood thing for only the benefit of humans. Now? They have cancelled all "shows", stick to research, rescue, and rehab to protect these amazing animals, and use these interactive programs as a teaching and awareness tool that allows them to save the wild dolphins. I am okay with that. I don't think any place that abuses it's animals,keeps them in horrendous conditions etc, could have the record they do, or have Nellie. She's 60. Almost 2.5 to 3 times older than dolphin life expectancy. They also have several others exceeding their expected ages by 15 years or more. I know living in a pool verses the open ocean isn't ideal. However, I don't think it's bad to have these 12 animals in a place where we can help save and impact the mass majority in the wild. Like I said, there are trade offs. I find this to be an acceptable one, and there is no way you could visit and think these dolphins are miserable or mistreated. I wasn't an easy customer for these people, but they won me over with their mission, dedication, and love for what they do and their dolphins.
I would also recommend Clearwater Marine Aquarium. It's not fancy, but they are wonderful. We visit often, my daughter is in love with Winter. My largest charity donation last year was to them . They are trying to build better facilities for their residents, all of which are rescued animals who cannot be released for one reason or another. I'll post some pics when I go home and can get them uploaded and edited. ;) Thanks again ladies. I will be watching the full documentaries you provided.