Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist Monk, conservationist, author and thinker whose new book A Plea for the Animals is set to pose some difficult questions when it comes to our stance on conservation and welfare.
Ricard is a tireless campaigner for animal rights and in an essay posted on his blog (September 14th) entitled Dolphins Are Not Toys he outlines one area of captivity which needs to be addressed immediately. The article was reposted verbatim on The Huffington Post and highlights many of the shortcomings and failures of the marine life ‘entertainment’ industry.
Speaking about the intelligence of dolphins in particular, Matthieu Ricard argues that the driving factor for the whole industry is greed and avarice, not wellbeing and conservation of the animals. Despite his status as a prominent Buddhist monk, Ricard doesn’t hold back in his condemnation of cruelty:
“In the people who run such businesses we find only hypocrisy, profiteering, and disinformation. In the public, we see one example out of many of cognitive dissonance: We just love these marine mammals – they’re so “cute;” documentaries are dedicated to their majesty; we make stuffed toys and key chains in their likeness. But we also make their life a living hell.”
Bringing into account the dolphins need to travel and build social structures, Matthieu Ricard also focuses on the intelligence and emotional sensitivity which these creatures possess.
“Wild animals are skilled at feeding themselves, getting around, avoiding dangers, managing the risks they take, playing, and raising a family. It crucial for us to preserve their way of life, protect their territory, respect their will to govern themselves, and avoid activities that harm them directly (hunting, destroying their habitats) or indirectly (pollution, general degradation of the environment due to human activities). These are the types of rights that must be applied also to cetaceans.
There is no point in pretending to make their prison more pleasant in order to draw attention away from the issue and thereby continue to earn money at the cost of the suffering and the freedom of these wildlife animals: the only acceptable dolphinarium is a dolphinarium that is shut down — once and for all.”
In associated news, Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project recently posted this statistic, along with encouraging news from California: