BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The National Aquarium is still waiting for answers after the death of two baby dolphins. On Monday, the dolphin show reopened as trainers, and the dolphins, cope with the loss.

Adam May reports on a troubled track record for the dolphin exhibit. 

Just a few weeks ago, two baby dolphins seemed playful and healthy at the National Aquarium. Then suddenly, they both died.  

One was found dead in the pool, its mother trying to make it surface for air. The other died during a medical procedure after it showed signs of labored breathing. 

“We’re grieving along side the animals, trying to get back to normalcy as best we can for us and animals, but its a tremendous loss,” said trainer, Allison Ginsburg. 

Since 1992, 14 dolphins have been born at the National Aquarium and 6 have died. That’s a mortality rate of almost 43 percent and is slightly higher than the 33 percent average quoted by the Aquarium.  

“We check food, the status of the animals, social reasons, medical reasons. Most often we try to rule out everything but these guys are prone to respiratory illnesses, in the wild and under human care,” said Ginsburg.

A number of animal rights groups are against keeping dolphins in captivity, including the former trainer of Flipper. They claim captive dolphins are stressed, more likely to get sick and some even committ suicide.  

“As long as we call it education and research you can literally get away with murder,” said Ric O’Berry

The National Aquarium still has eight dolphins.

As they say, the show must go on. The deaths were not mentioned to the crowd.

“You just wonder why, what happened, I thought they would have referenced it a little bit,” said an audience member.

The mothers were absent from the show, in a separate tank, ocassionally still calling out for the missing calves.

The test results on those two calves could take a couple of weeks.

Comments (15)
  1. bmoregyrl says:

    That is so sad.

  2. Cha Ching! says:

    This particular species of dolphin is “very Fragile” as described by aquarium staff members. I find it interesting that the fragility of the species refers to captive dolphins, as opposed to those in the wild.
    Whenever such a tragic event, such as the death of one or two dolphins occurs, the aquarium issues statements of somber grief and sadness. I am sure that the trainers are saddened greatly by the loss, but I must keep in mind that someone in a fancy office wieghed the risks of captivity for these two creatures and made a choice to reap a monetary gain.
    If their life expectancy is so very fragile, why not allow them to live in the wild, rather than die in captivity? Bad Dolphin Keeper!

    1. jackie says:

      VERY well said Cha Ching. My thoughts exactly. Someone is getting big bucks off of these beautiful creatures being held in captivity. People need to stop going to the aquarium and perhaps they will get the message

      1. Lauren says:

        I happen to know some of the people in those ‘fancy offices’, and I also happen to know that you DON’T go into the zoo or aquarium business to make money: you go into it because you love animals and want to share them with others. As a keeper myself, I happen to know that the primary mission of most zoos and aquariums is NOT to make money, but to further the education of the public and captive research programs. The 30 bucks you spend to get into the aquarium is just a drop in the bucket to care for the immense number and variety of animals there. If people stop going to the aquarium, it will be the animals and educational programs that suffer.

  3. Linda Spagnolo says:

    As much as I enjoy and respect all sea creatures, dolphins obviously need to live in the ocean where they were meant to be swimming freely and not in a kiddie pool environment. It cost a fortune just to maintain them and we don’t need a sideshow entertainment the aquarium charges extra for. Time to free Willy and family back to the ocean and just show a free video of what they do in their natural surroundings.

  4. Look Closely says:

    Please forgive me for this unpleasant reminder:
    There was a time, in our nation’s history, when it was considered acceptable to own blacks. It was commonplace, to hold them captive and to make them perform when it suited us, for monetary gain. Our agricultural industries relied heavily upon this principle, and flourished as a result. Wealthy plantation owners justified their practice with statements such as “They are animals, and cannot be afforded the same rights and freedoms as we deserve.” Hence, the difficulties which ensued when our morals improved sufficiently to allow us to see the underlying “wrong” in the concept of captive slavery for profit.
    Some time has transpired, since those days, and we now find ourselves at a similar crossroads in our moral understanding and growth. It is currently “acceptable” to hold animals captive for both our pleasure and profit. Animals, such as the deceased dolphins at the Baltimore Aquarium, are being exploited for the purpose of monetary gain; at a substantial detriment to their health and well-being. It is clear, that the ocean’s natural habitat offers the best quality of life and greatest chances of survival for these intelligent creatures. However, the pursuit of money continues to drive their capture and exploitation.
    It is time, once again, to take an unbiased look at ourselves and our practices, in an effort to responsibly implement moral principles that will allow us to coexist with these creatures in a humane and balanced state.
    Thank you.

    1. Really says:

      Good grief @ look closely, save your political mumbo jumbo for the correct forum, this is Baltimore City , get a grip.

      1. jackie says:

        I think that Look Closely has also done a fantastic job of putting everything into perspective. It is time that we stop taking things so lightly “Really”. We need to stand up for these poor animals/mammals because few will. What is happening is wrong and it must be stopped NOW. Do you look at all things with such little regard? How sad. Just because there are people in Balto and elsewhere who really and truly care about this subject does not mean that we are taking things too seriously. And your comments “This is Balto City” heavily implies that people from Balto are below this level of thinking. Perhaps YOU are but not others. This IS the correct place to comment on all of these issues. just because YOU don’t understand it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be discussed.

  5. Look Closely says:

    I appreciate your replies and your viewpoints, Jackie.
    It may be of some interest to “Really” that despite having recently resided in Baltimore city, I remain able to view the topic of dolphin captivity without political bias or personal prejudice. (I am still searching for the correlation between my previous comment and a perceived political agenda.) I am not affiliated with any group or organization, regarding dolphins or animals in general.
    The focus of my comment was to encourage others to look more closely within themselves, when considering the impact of captivity on dolphins. Each of us has the ability to consider the suffering, which results from taking a wild animal out of its natural habitat and enclosing it in a captive environment. However, our willingness to look upon the situation objectively, remains a stumbling point for some, as it calls for a level of compassion outside of our personal comfort zone. To further this dilemma, a lack of personal gain simplifies the ease in which we are able to dismiss the topic in its entirety.
    Ironically, “looking more closely” may well be beyond the abilities of those who cannot escape the self-inflicted captivity of personal greed for self-gain.

  6. Patty says:

    This really saddens me. I feel so very sorry for the mothers of the baby dolphins. And yet the Aquarium will have them both performing again real soon. I haven’t visited the Aquarium since it opened, and now I never will. I can’t enjoy going there. Please for the sake of the dolphins, if you even care, let them go back to the Ocean where they belong.

    1. Lauren says:

      Captive born and bred dolphins would die in the wild, after having lived a life under human supervision and care. Sounds like someone watched ‘Free Willy’ one too many times. Do your research.

  7. J. Williams says:

    Is there no value in attendees learning about the dolphins and what it takes to protect THEIR environment? These dolphins are the oceans’ ambassadors. It is not simply just Cha Ching. Separate the people from the creatures, and the creatures become abstractions and apathy towards the environment results. Open your eyes and your mind.

  8. Look Closely says:

    To J. Williams:
    You make a valid point. I believe there is value in attendees learning about these “ambassador” creatures. I also feel that the dolphins themselves have value. Subsequently, while considering your point, I was unable to justify diminishing the value of the dolphin’s lives, for the sake of avoiding abstraction and apathy towards them. Since the objective is to save the dolphins, based on their value, it is a contradiction to confine them in a way that has an historical tendency to harm them. Furthermore, given the high level of intelligence of these valuable creatures, it does occur to me, that they possess the desire to overcome the restraints of captivity and return to their point of origin.
    A more reasonable solution to combating apathy towards dolphins, and the environment in general, is to direct the monies that currently flow into the profit accounts of the Aquarium, to organizations that work for the cause of education and raising public awareness of the environment and the importance of protecting this valuable resource. We can accomplish this objective by allocating the funds that we would have spent on admission fees (to visit the dolphins in captivity) and donating those funds to the worthy organization of our choice.
    I agree, that we all need to “open our eyes and our minds”; and in doing so, it becomes obvious that these dolphins (alive and dead) are in need of an ambassador to give voice to their basic needs, both in the interest of saving their lives and toward preserving their natural dignities.

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