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BASIC QUESTIONS ON THE TRAINING OF CAPTIVE WHALES AND DOLPHINS

Sea World and other parks talk about "positive reinforcement", what is that?

Are captive whales and dolphins really starved to preform?

Sea World and other parks talk about "positive reinforcement", what is that?

Sea World uses a technique called "operant conditioning" or positive reinforcement. The dolphin gets positively reinforced for its behavior and is very common among marine parks worldwide. In other words the satisfaction of hunger is dependent on performing tricks: for others, hunger is deliberately induced so the reinforcement is effective. This is not food deprivation, per se, a complete food amount is provided each day, but the use of food as reinforcement reduces these skilled hunters to beggars. There lives revolve around food. (Source: The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity handbook...HSUS)

Are captive whales and dolphins really starved to preform?

Although many parks use "positive reinforcement", some do infact result to more drastic measures to make an animal preform. One such case is a dolphinarium in Europe. Feed logs of several bottle-nosed dolphins where copied and posted on the European Cetacean Org's website. (The logs point out exactly how much ration of food each animal was given each day.) The logs explain how stubborn dolphins refused to preform on cue, and that hunger was induced to "force" the dolphins to preform for their meals. You may view the feed logs here.
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