SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - There's been a lot of debate recently about whether or not killer whales should be kept in captivity. Now activists are focusing on dolphins, questioning if they should be made to perform tricks for crowds of people.
Dolphin shows like the one performed inside SeaWorld San Diego are crowd pleasers, which according to dolphin trainer Lindy Donahue is exactly what they're designed to do.
"Educating the public about these animals has always been our goal, and we do that in a very fun way,” she explained.
But there's a growing nationwide movement to change the way these marine mammals are presented. In other words, do away with the entertainment and focus solely on education, like what's being done at Baltimore's National Aquarium.
"We set aside the traditional show format, and made it much more of an interactive opportunity for people to come through the aquarium,” said John Racanelli the CEO of the National Aquarium.
It's not just businesses taking a look at how they do things. City officials are doing the same.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a non-binding resolution stating that whales and dolphins have the right to be free from life in captivity, and Malibu's City Council issued a proclamation last February proclaiming all whales and dolphins swimming offshore have the "right to their own freedom and lives."
At SeaWorld San Diego, Donahue says they haven't made changes to their dolphin shows, and they don't intend to say the dolphins here are thriving.
"If it's not broken, don't fix it. What we do has always worked. We entertain the guests, we inspire the guests. We also allow them one-on-one opportunities so they can learn in a one-on-one atmosphere,” Donahue said.
Donahue says this is what SeaWorld is all about.
As for documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove that say otherwise:
"I would ask everybody to do your own research and to ask questions. Question the motives and question the backgrounds of the individuals that the information is coming from,” continued Donahue.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore says aside from altering its shows, they're also looking at the possibility of having an oceanside sanctuary for dolphins.