A 15-year-old girl is determined to eradicate the captivity of dolphins in Spain. She has launched a public awareness campaign that may cause a stir..
Nearly 120,000 people are backing a petition, set up by 15-year-old Olivia Mandle, that calls for the Spanish government to end the captivity of dolphins in Spain and shut down dolphinariums.
Spain has the most dolphinariums in the EU, with 11 parks showcasing captive cetaceans. One of the most infamous is Loro Parque, in Tenerife, was recently featured in Blackfish, a Netflix documentary that focused on US marine park Seaworld and the dangers and ethics of keeping orcas in captivity. And another one, Oceanografic, in Valencia, is probably the biggest place in Europe where dolphins are kept captive.
Like orcas, dolphins need a lot of space to swim around. In the wild, they can swim up to 80 miles a day. But in captivity, on average, they have around 200,000 times less space, says World Animal Protection.
This means they cannot engage in their natural behaviors. And as a result, they can get bored, aggressive, and even self-harm.
In the petition, Mandle writes:
“Aquapolis, the water park in Tarragona, had 9 captive dolphins for years and although this weekend it has decided to close its dolphinarium, once again they have treated these living beings as mere objects of economic interest.
And they fly them (it must be very nice for them) to another aquarium in China.
But they say they had to find a place to ensure the welfare of these animals.
SHAMEFUL LIE AND HUMAN AGGRESS.
What terrible legal gaps exist so that this “transaction” could have been carried out.
These animals need to be transferred to a marine sanctuary and try to give them an opportunity so that, even if it is little, they can taste something as close as possible to what their life could and should have been.
Let’s stop doing business with these or any animals.
For a Law Prohibiting Dolphinariums and shows in this country, sign my campaign: #noespaisparadelfines @change_es
Spain is the largest dolphin prison in Europe and the 6th in the world.
Let’s stop this billionaire business.”
Mandle also refers to Barcelona’s decision in 2018 to become a dolphin captivity-free city. It was a start. But as the teen notes, the animals that lived there have simply been moved to another dolphinarium in a different country. She is calling for Spain to set an example and ban the captivity of dolphins in Spain once for all.
“It is not normal to lock these animals in small pools day and night for the rest of their lives,” Mandle writes.
The UK, Chile, India, Costa Rica, Norway, and Brazil are among the countries that have already banned dolphin captivity.
In 2020, the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program recognized Mandle as a “mini-heroine.” The young activist set up the dolphinarium petition when she was 13, but it is still gaining significant traction.
In the country that can still not agree should the bullfights be banned, this is a big ask. Also, if we look at the Oceanografic in Valencia, it must be noted that this is the biggest tourist attraction in the city (together with the City of Arts and Sciences), so it is very hard to imagine that eventual decision to ban the captivity of dolphins in Spain, would have any support from the local government.
If you want to support Olivia, click here.