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“They’re not getting the care in the aquariums. It’s a physical fact that we as humans are separating family groups and we’re deciding which animals should go where and how that should be done. And as a father it just hit me that would be the same as if I put a net into my family and took my son away and said, ’Ok son, you’re going to China to represent Canadians there’.” ~ Christopher R. Porter


Christopher Porter has an extensive resume’ rooted in a history of marine mammal training and trading. Since 1991 he has worked with dolphins, sea lions and killer whales in Greece, Italy, Solomon Islands and British Columbia. He is now the founder of He is a changed man and I consider him an inspiration and a breath of fresh air.


As one of my facebook friends, I have had the honor of chatting with Mr. Porter on a few occasions. After releasing my post ‘Georgia Aquarium Broken Homes’ I decided to ask Chris a question. Here is the conversation.

Holise Cleveland III January 17 at 8:27am
Hello Chris! Do you think that a dolphin born in captivity can be trained to survive in the wild?

Christopher Porter January 17 at 11:03am

This video [of Viti the dolphin, included below] shows what a captive born dolphin can do. His story saddens me as it should not of gotten to the point of himself alone but the WHOLE STORY did show me what is possible… eating live fish, going out to the ocean etc… I think it can be done successfully through proper time and resources. Viti showed how much is possible on his own.
I always tell people that if we can tame a wild animal … of course we can wild a tame one. They have years of evolution, gentics and god given ability to survive. Just as we do. Give them the right opportunities they will show what is possible.


Captive born conservation happens with zoo animals like birds all the time. The arguments for marine animals is based on people’s fears that “the family” is the only way an organism can live. As life shows us if one travels around the world… children learn to provide for themselves all over the world.


Viti learned to eat live fish, show him where the fish was and introduce him to some other wild dolphins it would of been done. It is my biggest push with my work now to challenge everyone to think bigger and humbler, we are smart so let us act like it and do more for wild conservation.


Introduction of captive born animals would show that it is possible. The problem is that everyone does not want to try. Even the biggest activists. I had Ric O’Barry’s son tell me they would never try, then when I was showing what Viti was doing still could not get them to support me for the release. Too scared of press!

Hope that answers your question. If not ask away.


FTA-For The Animals

Holise Cleveland III January 17 at 11:12am

The reason I asked is because I hear so much crap about how The Cove information may be compromised in regards to captivity being linked to dolphin drives. I thought it is best to simply take that out of the equation and concentrate on showing the evils of captivity on its own.


Thank you so much Chris! If it is alright with you, I would like to post this to my blog. I think the world should know this. Thanks again!

Christopher Porter January 17 at 11:19am

I am an open book publish anything FTA. Regarding the misinformation thing… that is what I talked to Ric about … challenge the industry to prove that animals can be released back to the wild. That way the aquarium industry argument is null and void and reduces simply to captivity being a form of education and awareness that the public needs. Right now there are many issues that allow the both sides to dilute the arguments. Same thing happens in politics. Keep complicating the matter so that people get confused and turn off.


Your approach to reduce it to a single item is exactly what needs to happen. The fishermen probably really don’t care about the captive industry side… there is a huge middle man industry on that one that covers many continents that is fueling that one.


Isolate the fishermen to find a way they no longer care to use their skill to bring the dolphins in. That is the quickest way to extinguish it. I tried to do that in Solomons but people don’t like big challenges or don’t follow through.


I posted ‘Georgia Aquarium Broken Homes’ to his facebook profile wall. In the article, I made a rather harsh statement.


“Anyone who can justify a family being split apart, must justify their own broken home in the same way. I do not doubt that trainers love their subjects. In the story ‘Misery’ the woman crippled that man so that he could never leave. She loved him in her own way. Trainers should not aid the warden in crippling these magnificent creatures. They should instead speak up to have them freed.”

This was in no way directed at Chris. Nevertheless, he kindly addressed my ridiculous outburst.

Christopher Porter
Holise… give you the answer you are looking for on how it is justified… within the industry there is many of us that feel that there is something wrong holding the animals captive. But I did it and others do it based on the idea that these animals are ambassadors to their wild counterparts and are part of the process of educating and making the public aware of their plight. I realized that our effect was not as great as we need on our planet and we should figure a way to build a better wild and not better aquariums. A new aquarium these days are in the range of 200 million plus for dolphins. This debate on the effectiveness of the process is up at the Directors and scientist level where they think even experimentation is part of the learning process. So the people looking after the animals do it out of love with the thought if they don’t look after that individual well somebody else might that does not worry so much about them. It is a tricky road back and forth.


What needs to happen is an emergence of people that care for the animals and talk openly what is possible if both sides work together. IF both sides work together and admit what they do wrong and admit what they do right… they can work on a cooperative solution that will engage the general public more into wild conservation.


Aquariums think if they don’t exist nothing at all will get done in the wild, activists think if they don’t exist nothing will get done for the animals… the TRUTH of the matter is that NOTHING WILL GET DONE without engaging the General Public into helping both the wild and the animals in it. The mass of the public is indifferent to it. It needs us working together with our passion to make them turn on to helping this world and not relying on aquariums or activists to do it for them. There is not enough activists or aquariums to fix the marine animal’s problems.


Sorry for the long answer but this is my passion after years of watching and working around the world in the hope that we were making a difference. We can make a difference but egos have to be left at the door and everybody needs to meet at the table to find the best solution FTA!



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Comment by Holise E. Cleveland III on January 24, 2011 at 13:58
Oh please do! You never have to ask me. I share freely.
Comment by Dawn Groth on January 24, 2011 at 7:07
This is a wonderful Post Holise.  Do you mind if I share it :O)


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