I've long wondered if the dolphins and whales kept in captivity would do the stupid tricks their trainers ask of them if there were no reward of food? It's one of the questions our group, FREE THE ATLANTA 11, has been wanting to ask the GA Aquarium.
At the rally yesterday, I asked one of the aquarium volunteers, who will remain nameless for their own protection, that very question! The following was the volunteers reply. "The trainers told me that if one of the dolphins refused to perform, they just ignored it. They said they would still give the dolphin their food reward. They also told me that they do the tricks because they have a special bond with their dolphin and give them lots of love". Our group finds this very hard to believe, especially after viewing the attached interview.
The volunteer also stated that they are "told what words to use when addressing the public about the dolphins." The volunteer gave the example of not being allowed to say "tricks", they must say "behaviors". I would agree that the trainers use some of the dolphins natural "behaviors" and strengths to perform some of these TRICKS, but for the most part, you are NOT going to see dolphins doing these tricks/behaviors in the wild. It is not a natural behavior for dolphins to tail walk or jump straight up out of the water to grab a scrap of dead fish. Are they able to do this? Obviously yes, they can be taught to do this for the right reward. I guarantee it wouldn't be for a pat on the head, a kiss on the cheek, or even a hug from their trainer. What drives them to do the trick is one thing only, FOOD! If you have ever seen a dolphin or whale show, you'll notice that the first thing the dolphin/whale does after performing a trick is go straight to his or her trainer who immediately gives the performer a mouthful of dead fish. (which by the way, dead fish is not something dolphins and whales eat in the wild, they are carnivores, not scavengers) Even if the dolphin doesn't do the trick correctly, the first thing they do is go straight back to the trainer for their food reward. And being someone who has seen several of these shows in the past, I've also seen the trainers refuse the reward if the trick is not performed to their satisfaction forcing the dolphin to repeat the trick in order to get the food reward.
After viewing the link below, and using our common sense, we believe our question has been answered.
You'll have to watch through the interview, which is very interesting about dolphin meat and it's toxicity levels, but toward the end you will hear the answer to our question.......from someone who knows a thing or two about dolphin training and how it works, Mr. Ric O'Barry.
FORMER DOLPHIN TRAINER, NOW ACTIVIST, RIC O'BARRY, INTERVIEW WITH "ARTIST FOR THE OCEAN" 2011.