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End captivity

Why are we still putting whales and dolphins in small tanks for entertainment?

These highly intelligent individuals should not suffer for human ‘fun’. You can help end the cruel exploitation of whales and dolphins in marine parks around the world.

What is life like for a captive whale or dolphin?

Kidnapped, imprisoned and forced to perform. For an individual who is used to swimming many miles every day, a tank is a featureless prison cell. Most whales and dolphins live in complex family groups – with generations often staying together their whole lives. Life in an aquarium can mean separation from their families, and even being kept alone.

How does captivity affect whales and dolphins?

We can’t know what it feels like to be a whale or dolphin, but when you see the behaviour of individuals who have spent years in captivity, you can imagine the frustration, boredom and even despair that they may be feeling.

  • Shorter lives – the death rate for captive orcas is 2.5 times higher than in the wild. Bottlenose dolphins and belugas also have higher death rates in captivity than in the wild.
  • Attacks – frustration can cause captive whales and dolphins to attack each other and sometimes trainers and members of the public.
  • Repetitive behaviours – in confinement, whales and dolphins may swim endlessly in circles, lie on the floor of the tank for extended periods of time, chew on the sides of the pool and repeat the same patterns of behaviour over and over.
  • Dorsal fin collapse – orcas kept in tanks spend most of their time swimming in endless circles, causing their tall dorsal fins to collapse to one side. Dorsal fin collapse happens to 1% of wild orcas. 100% of captive male adult orcas have collapsed dorsal fins.
  • Drugs – some parks give captive whales and dolphins tranquillisers to relieve the stress that they are feeling.

How your support can help

  • Stop the capture – by supporting WDC, you can help us put pressure on governments to ban the capture of wild whales and dolphins.
  • End the demand – you can help us make tourists and tour operators aware of the cruelty they are encouraging when they visit or promote marine parks holding whales and dolphins captive.
  • Create sanctuaries – you can help provide alternative, more natural homes for captive whales and dolphins where they can enjoy improved health and welfare and even be prepared for release into the wild. Find out more.


  • Captivity banned in India – WDC supporters like you helped us work with local campaigners to persuade the Indian government to ban whale and dolphin captivity.
  • Virgin ended support for SeaWorld – thanks to WDC campaigning, Virgin Holidays will no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld or any other facility that holds whales and dolphins captive for 'entertainment'.
  • US beluga whale import stopped – WDC supporters helped stop captured beluga whales being imported into the United States of America.
  • Helped create the world's first ocean sanctuary for whales - WDC partnered with the SEA LIFE Trust on one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades.

Dive deeper

Morgan the orca in captivity © C. Robles

Orcas in Captivity

Find out more about the fate of captive orcas and the current numbers in captivity and what you can do to help.


Swimming with Dolphins

Find out more about the impact of swimming with dolphins, the alternatives and how you can help.

Please care for whales and dolphins by taking action today.

Today there are more than 3,600 whales and dolphins held captive in aquariums, zoos and marine parks. One day, we’ll look back on this time and think, how could this cruelty ever have been considered entertainment? Help us end captivity now.

Our campaigns

Whales and dolphins continue to be captured and imprisoned in marine parks around the world for one reason: they make money for big corporations. Help fight for whale and dolphin freedom today.

Making this generation of captive whales and dolphins the last

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit parks and zoos holding whales and dolphins in captivity. Join our campaign to persuade the travel industry to get out of the dark ages and commit to an ethical phase-out of captivity.

Creating sanctuaries

More than 3,600 whales, dolphins and porpoises are held in tanks. If we want to end captivity, we need sanctuaries where they can live the rest of their lives in a more natural environment or be rehabilitated for release. Together with the SEA LIFE Trust we have helped create the world's first beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland.

Latest captivity news

Orca-Morgan-LoroParque-2013_c_UCLudewig (1)

Jet2holidays stops promoting dolphin shows

Jet2holidays has followed easyJet's recent announcement and become the latest major tour operator in the...
Dolphin in captivity

Tests reveal captive dolphin choked to death on fake seaweed

Nephele, a dolphin held at Kolmården Zoo in Sweden has died after a piece artificial...

Success! easyJet becomes latest holiday company to turn its back on marine parks

easyJet holidays has announced that it will no longer offer harmful animal-based attractions to its...
Orcas in captivity

Captive orca’s baby dies after just four weeks

A baby orca born in captivity at the Moskvarium facility in Russia has died. The...

Please help us end captive cruelty

By adopting a whale or dolphin, by making a donation, or by fundraising for WDC, you can help us save these amazing creatures from a life in confinement.

Orca - Rob Lott


Adopt a whale or dolphin and help us end captivity.

Bottlenose dolphins leaping


Your support helps us take action to end this cruel exploitation.

Humpback whale spyhop


Run, bake, walk, cycle… what could you do to help?