Two bottlenose dolphins will soon be free from their concrete tank in the Six Flags Mexico amusement park — never again forced to give “kisses” or perform tricks for shouting crowds.
On Tuesday, the Legislative Assembly of Mexico City passed a transformative bill outlawing dolphins in captivity for purposes of performance, training, “swim with the dolphin” programs, research and therapy.In Defense of Animals (IDA) had previously ranked Dolphin Discovery Six Flags Mexico as the sixth-worst tank for dolphins and whales in North America. The two dolphins currently being held captive are “coerced to perform circus acts to crowds as loud music blares” as well as participating in “swim programs,” according to IDA.
Many of the dolphins used in these programs are prone to psychological trauma — often separated from their mothers at an unnaturally early age and forced to obey commands by trainers withholding food. Chemicals used in the water can negatively affect dolphins’ skin and mucus production, and the stress of interacting with multiple people on a daily basis takes a serious toll on these intelligent and complex creatures’ health.The legislation will be a major step forward in the fight against the exploitation of cetaceans, and animal advocates are hopeful that it may set an example for the rest of the world.
“This landmark ban will spare generations of animals from cruelty and sends a clear message that the public increasingly rejects dolphin captivity,” Dr. Toni Frohoff, cetacean scientist for IDA, said in a press release. “We thank Mexico City officials for recognizing our ‘Ten Worst Tanks’ list and acting swiftly to end the abuse. We urge Six Flags to retire the dolphins at a seaside sanctuary where they may recover.”
Captive facilities have three months to place the dolphins in a space where they will be free from abuse. According to Xavier López Adame, representative of the Ecological Green Party of Mexico, anyone who violates the law in the country’s capital will be subject to thousands of dollars worth of fines, Megalópolis Mx reports.The law had unilateral support across the assembly, making its passage easy. “All parties, from rights to strong lefts voted just as one,” Yolanda Alaniz, a dolphin advocate, said in a press conference with Adame. “Deputies recognized dolphins as sentient beings who suffer living in concrete tanks. Politics spoke with ethics, and marked a new way to follow for our country, and we will follow this path.”