Bailey Mason

TBS Next Gen: Dolphin Show Protest Sparks Debate on Performing Animals

As part of The Big Smoke’s Next Gen program, Bailey Mason (age 15) was at the recent protest that questioned Sea World’s dolphin captivity program.


StudentBailey Mason
MentorJordan Rivkin
Topic: Using animals for entertainment is just plain wrong.


Animal rights activists, myself included, recently reignited the debate on the ethics of Sea World’s performing animal shows after we disrupted the dolphin shows in December 2018 at the Gold Coast [Australia] theme park.

Justice For Captives protesters jumped up in front of the dolphin pools holding banners reading “Animals are not entertainment” and some activists even jumped into the dolphin pool, which resulted in the shows being cancelled. The police issued infringement notices on some of the activists.

Sea World on Queensland’s Gold Coast breeds dolphins into captivity where they’re destined for a life of performances. They will never swim free in the ocean. The dolphins’ entire lives are spent performing daily for the reward of dead frozen fish. There has been a long-held misconception that all the dolphins at Sea World are rescued from dire situations. However, this is not true.

Bottlenose dolphins are not an endangered species and making animals perform tricks is not a form of conservation but rather a money-making enterprise for a big business built on the exploitation of marine life. Less than one percent of their wealth is spent on their heavily-promoted research, rescue, and rehabilitation initiatives, which proves that it’s all about getting rich and not saving animals.

Also on The Big Smoke

Trevor Long from Sea World has responded to criticism with some clearly bizarre statements. He said, “These behaviors they do are no different to the wild,” but we all know that dolphins do not lift trainers up in the air, dance, or give rides in the wild. Sea World says that “respect, dignity and welfare are key values at Sea World,” but how is enslaving animals for our entertainment any of these things?

Dolphin captivity has been banned in many countries around the world, but the Australian government has not yet had the guts to phase out this cruel practice. The Australian Senate recommended 30 years ago that dolphin captivity be phased out after evidence that dolphins are stressed in captivity, yet it still continues.

We disrupted Sea World’s dolphin show because we care for these animals. Our actions sparked a very important debate on the ethics of using animals for our entertainment.


This article is part of a series for The Big Smoke Next Gen.

The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics, and journalists with students who wish to write nonfiction articles and voice their opinions about what is shaping the world.

For more information about our program at The Big Smoke, or to become a mentor, please contact us.


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