Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons’

Being an employee of MySQL (past and present), every time I see something related to dolphins it catches my eye – and I just came across this:

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons’

The treatment of dolphins has long been an issue for me, I utterly despise some of the things I have seen, and read about. MySQL’s dolphin – Sakila – has always been seen as a symbol of freedom. This is marred by reality, hopefully this will change:

“The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.”

Some other things in the article also ring true for me, in other ways. 🙂

“The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.”

“It has also become clear that they are â??culturalâ? animals, meaning that new types of behaviour can quickly be picked up by one dolphin from another.”

“Other research has shown dolphins can solve difficult problems, while those living in the wild co-operate in ways that imply complex social structures and a high level of emotional sophistication.”

FWIW, I’ve donated to both and in the past, they are both wonderfully worthy causes.

6 thoughts on “Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons’”

  1. This is an interesting topic, because even more than dolphins, dogs and cats play a large part in our life. However, even if someone kills someone else’s pet on purpose, the punishment is usually trivial. It’s usually based on the “value” of the dog. If these rules applied to children, we’d say it was crazy.

    I believe cruelty or negligence affecting animals should become a more serious crime. What’s funny, though, is there are people who are scared to death of this. They call this type of thing “animal rights” and I’ve literally had people tell me (on my dog blog: that if we give dogs rights, it will be the end of the world. They mean that literally, not figuratively. Like it will literally bring on the apocalypse. These people are crazy, but they’re the same people that say that if we require a permit for a felon to carry an automatic weapon we may as well flush the US down the tubes.

    Having said that, it’s important to go slow and restrain oneself in this area as well. Some places that keep dolphins for show really put a lot of effort into making the dolphins’ lives fun and active. I don’t know the details, but if you go after the good guys and treat them like the bad guys, you will make no progress on stopping the real bad guys. That is, if your first goal is to shut down Sea World, you’re not going to do any good. Public opinion will not be on your side.

    How about tougher punishments for people involved in dog fighting or animal abuse. That’s a good next step that is supported by general public opinion and will open the door for better protection of dolphins in the future.

  2. @Matt

    Indeed, I have a couple of cats and a dog, that own me and my family, as well:

    So I totally agree that they have rights too, mine are almost treated like humans in our house.

    The main thing I despise, when it comes to dolphins, is the mass slaughtering that happens every year. Yes, I think keeping them in captivity isn’t right either, but given good treatment (I agree, many are very very well treated), it’s not as much of a concern.

    Asia is really the big issue (dogs don’t get much better treatment there!) – I’m not sure they’d give a damn or not what the scientists say, either, unfortunately.

  3. I’m inclined to agree with Matt. Places like Sea World actually put a lot of effort into ensuring the animals they house are treated well. I’m fairly sure that they double as a place to research the animals as well as donating money towards worthy causes like conservation.

    The treatment of animals debate is a fairly slippery slope as we tend to determine what is fair treatment based on our own cultural values.

    For example, beef farmers kill cattle daily for us to eat — granted it is as humanely as possible, but when you break it down they are still killing for food.

    In western society it would be considered by most to be unacceptable to breed and farm dogs in a similar way.

    All that changes here is the species of animal – but rules seem to change based on our culture.

    To look at the western society from another view, consider that cows are considered sacred by many in India.

    I guess what I’m trying to say here is that there is no “one truth” here. My personal belief is that we should all try to treat all other creatures on this planet as humanely as possible, even the ones we use for food.

    Oh.. except spiders and flies and mosquitoes…. 😉 Ahh hypocrisy!

  4. I think that it is beautiful that what we search for in the skies and space (intelligent life), is actually right in front of us in the waters. What I don’t find beautiful is the lack of recognition this form of intelligence gets. Dolphins are treated as any other animal, as in, not us. But when we look closer like the scientists, we begin to understand that intellegence exist in other beings besides ourselvdes, just in a different way. Creatures like dolphins are complex and deep thinkers, they can even recognize themselves in the mirror!

    Just because dolphins didn’t evolve physical forms like we have, like arms, fingers, legs and such, doesnt mean that they didn’t evolve mentally. They probably have progressed mentally much further than us, to learn such things as love and forgiveness. We kill them at the hundreds, yet dolphins still retain the ability to love and to defend thier land-based forms, the humans.

    anyway, I own two cats and believe that thier lives should be full with stimulation. I see them as my equal, my animal side that just comprehends the world in a unique way that might not be possible for me to see. But just because I don’t see it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be.

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