An Indonesian circus company's dolphin show has garnered a tremendous amount of international attention recently because of the treatment of the mammals being forced to jump out of the water for prolonged periods of time to pose for selfies.
Photos and videos taken by the Movement to End Animal Circuses in Indonesia show a duo of dolphins being forced onto land at one of the country's traveling circuses so that paying guests can take selfies with them as well as kiss the distressed animals.
The dolphins are held in tiny temporary pools filled with chlorinated water before being forced to jump out of the water and slide over guardrails and rough flooring as they approach guests who wait to kiss them and take photos.
In a series of Facebook posts, the group decried the dolphins' mistreatment, saying, "The exploitation and abuse of these animals cannot be justified."
The post goes on to read, "These dolphins are often out of the water for long periods of time. This harms dolphins, physically and psychologically."
As bad as the show sounds, it only gets worse for the dolphins. Following each "performance," the dolphins are loaded on stretchers and placed into boxes to be transported to the next show, as reported by conservation website The Dodo.
"I think having to travel all the time in the stretchers would cause chafing on the skin," said Lincoln O'Barry, campaigns coordinator at Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project. "Dolphins are also used to living in the water --- their organs are used to living in that weightless condition. I'm sure spending so much time out of the water also affects their physiology."
In addition to being held out of water for extended periods of time, the dolphins are also forced to live in chlorinated pools, not the saltwater they are accustomed to in their natural habitat. This too, can lead to severe health issues.
"They go blind," said Femke Den Haas, founder of Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN). "It's like when you go in the pool, and after an hour, your eyes hurt because you're exposed to chlorine all the time. And they get skin diseases and they also get ulcers because chlorine gets into their body."
The abuse doesn't end with the dolphins - these circuses also feature otters, sun bears, and even cockatoos for any number of performances and photo opportunities. To display how unsafe these conditions can be, the Movement to End Animal Circuses in Indonesia took photos of a sun bear putting on a show just a few feet away from a dolphin who jumps onto the platform.
The treatment of all these animals is terrible, and there's no denying it. However, there might be some good news. The Dodo reported that one of the traveling circuses - the Indonesian Oriental Circus - recently stopped using animals in its shows. Namira Annisa, spokesperson for Movement to End Animal Circuses in Indonesia hopes that other traveling circuses will follow suit.
"This has set an important precedent, and we hope that many other circuses will follow," Annisa said.
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