I have mixed feelings about keeping animals in captivity so that humans can pet them or shake hands or throw appropriate food or, the epitome, ride them. Even under the kindest conditions, the animals are not in their natural homes.
Still, there are animals I would never have seen were it not for zoos and other artificial habitats. Which is why I swallowed my “political correctness” and signed up to get in a tank with Orion, a five-tear-old male dolphin, and his assistant, Deysi (pronounced Daisy).
It was raining in Costa Maya when we got to the Dolphin Discovery Center. But we were getting into water anyway, so we ignored it as Deysi showed us how to enter the salt-water tank and stand at the edge while she introduced her protégé by having him leap into the air several times. We’ve all seen it on TV, but it never fails to draw a collective breath.
For the next half hour, Deysi provided much information about dolphins in general and her friend in particular. Orion let us pet him, shake hands, and hug him . . . all while a photographer was snapping away. Neither Earl nor I were so naïve to imagine this experience was about understanding dolphin behavior as much as it was a lucrative photo opportunity for the Discovery Center.
I must confess Earl and I have done the dolphin thing in Jamaica and Venezuela, so you are probably thinking that — given my opening paragraph – I am a hypocrite. I agree, and I’ve decide this was the last time I’d do this. Fortunately, Orion and Deysi were the best.