After weeks of protest against a dolphin park in the state of Kerala and several other marine mammal entertainment facilities which were to be built this year, India has officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected. Dolphin parks that were being built across the country will instead be shut down.

India's Ministry of Environment and Forests has informed state governments to ban dolphinariums and other commercial entertainment that involves the capture and confinement of cetacean species such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins. They issued a statement that said, "research had clearly established cetaceans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and that dolphins "should be seen as 'non-human persons' and as such should have their own specific rights."

India becomes the fourth country in the world to ban the capture and import of cetaceans for the purpose of commercial entertainment - along with Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile. Three years ago, the movement began to recognize whale and dolphins as individuals with self-awareness and a set of rights. The movement gained momentum in Helsinki, Finland when scientists and ethicists drafted a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans. "We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and well-being," they wrote.

It has been shown that dolphins can recognize their own reflection, use tools and understand abstract concepts. They develop unique signature whistles allowing friends and family members to recognize them, similar to the way human beings use names. "They share intimate, close bonds with their family groups. They have their own culture, their own hunting practices - even variations in the way they communicate," said FIAPO's (Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations) Puja Mitra.

Belinda Wright from the Wildlife Protection Society of India summed the ban up this way,"I hope this will put some energy into India's Action Plan for the Gangetic Dolphin, which is supposed to run until 2020. But there's been very little action."

She added that the ban was a good first stop, but warned against excessive optimism. "I'm very proud that India has done this," she said. "I'm not trying to be cynical but I have been a conservationist in India for four decades. One gets thrilled with the wording, but I don't think it's going to turn to the tables. But dolphins for now are safe from dolphinariums, and that's a good thing."

Responses to "India declares Dolphins to be "Non-Human Persons" and bans keeping them in captivity"

  1. The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  2. Why has the USA lagged behind? I'm so ashamed. Let's get with it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just awesome!!

  4. Mep says:

    I am with Preethi Pasupuletti and Cosmic Cher. My addition to this.
    When is mankind ever going to leave it alone and let the animals of this Earth be free from torture and exploitation? Shame on all of the govt's for slaughter, exploitation's and thought they are just creatures with no brain, feeling or unity.. This is a big step. Thank you to Belinda Wright and all the others that are fighting so hard for the rights of animals.

  5. michelle says:

    A BIG THANKS goes out to all who has made this possible.....People fail to realize animals do have feelings,......They feel hurt too,.....I try to get involve with any thing that pertains to animals , for we are there voices........

  6. Anonymous says:

    What then should they do with elephants they are just as inteligent and have families and hierarchies shouldn't they be saved from captivity as well ?

  7. Anonymous says:

    The U.S and many other countries will most likely Not stop their practice of captive 'viewings' of these amazing animals because there is money to be made - Greed tends to blind certain people of the obvious...

  8. Unknown says:

    C'est génial pour les dauphins qui sont de plus en plus protégés mais celà devrait s'appliquer à tous les animaux de la terre !!!!

  9. Yes. Elephants & primates as well as all intelligent lifeforms should be protected with birth control (where necessary) & natural habitats where humans have destroyed theirs. Wolves, wild horses,& seals are just a few that come to mind. It's been said that a nation's humanity is judged by how well it treats its animals.

  10. Hawk says:

    India shows the way .... awesome!

  11. Anonymous says:

    maybe we should destroy humans (greedy corporations) and give animals back their land.

  12. Shirley P. Johnson says:

    How wonderful, your words give the rest of us hope for a world where all living creatures will be treat with the love and respect they do deserve!

    Pam Johnson

  13. Tons & tons of thanks to all individuals, NGOs, Authorities, etc. Looking this as a whole New Beginning of Love & Care. Lastly, I am Wishing WE honor what we declare and stand shoulder to shoulder what we are up to. tathastu

  14. This is awesome---too bad only India, Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile have made this decision...other countries need to step up to this.

  15. MaggieCr says:

    It's a start. Now keep it going.

  16. Elliander says:

    My Scoiology and cultural anthropology textbooks STILL say things like "only humans have culture" while defining culture as a learned pattern of behavior distinct from instinct. They also say only humans rely on language for survival and even goes so far as to say that animals don't have real language skills at all.

    One of my sociology exam quests asked me a True/False question: "Humans are the only species that depend on language for survival." It was one of those questions where I knew that the correct answer would have been marked wrong. That along with ethnocentric ideas like humans being the only species with culture (learned patterns of behavior distinct from instinct).

    If Dolphins use names for each other is this not evidence of a complex learned communication system that they depend on for survival? Is this not evidence of a concept for symbols?

    In my opinion these ideas are being perpetuated by the writers as part of an effort to push their non-scientific ideas of human superiority into a scientific setting. This leads others to believe non-truths and perpetuates problems of animal abuse.

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