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I WOULD like to support the concern raised by the WWF and Marine Conservation International about the launching of dolphin shows in Karachi.

No matter how safe an environment you provide the animal with, the fact remains that it is a wild animal and being a living creature has every right to live in its natural habitat.

By opening a Maritime Museum, Pakistan is also committing the sin of becoming a part of a billion-dollar industry built on the suffering of intelligent, social beings which are denied everything that is natural and important to them.

In the wild these dolphins and beluga whales can swim up to 100 miles a day in the open ocean. In aquariums and marine parks these animals can only swim endless circles in enclosures, that to them are like bathtubs devoid of any social life that they are naturally accustomed to.

Research shows that even though the captive animals are safe from predators, the stress of confinement and performing against nature weakens their immune system, causing them to die earlier than their wild counterpart.

The not-so-logical clarification given by the marine mammal trainer in Karachi that “it was not born in the wild, rather in captivity, and we have held such shows in many countries” in itself is very ironic.

Are they trying to imply that it is a lesser sin to keep a baby animal obscure/unaware of its natural surroundings than picking up a wild one which is accustomed to freedom. Indeed it is also in their favour because it is much easier to train the former than the latter. Ignorance is indeed a blessing.

This brings me to the next question: are we justified in spending Rs10m on building that facility when so many of our people are deprived of the basic facilities like food, clean water? So many children have no idea what a classroom looks like, because their parents have no money to feed them properly, leave alone send them to school.

Although proponents of such zoological parks and museums claim that they are promoting love for animals, they give this message to children that animals are something to be played as a toy rather than to be shown respect as another species.

However, in a country where human life has no value, what importance will be given to animals.

This is the reason why I have stopped taking my children to the zoo, when I see the barren enclosures where these innocent beings are being confined to.

NAEEMA HALIM
Lahore