Hunting and welfare
Physical suffering of cetaceans while hunting is very important for two reasons. Firstly because it is very difficult to kill a cetacean instantly, even a small one (the agony can last between 2 minutes and 300 minutes as the case may be). And also because of the different especially violent methods used. These methods are much more problematic since research indicates that cetaceans are as sensitive to pain as humans, and perhaps more.
We must not forget that cetaceans are social animals who have strong ties with their families and other members of their group. That is why they do not leave an injured or distressed fellow creature and try to help. It is certain that animals are extremely stressed by seeing their fellow creatures dying and hearing their distress calls.
Capture and welfare
The capture methods currently practised for zoos and for some leisure attractions (theme parks, dolphinariums, casinos) also have an impact on the welfare of cetaceans. In fact, the capture process is brutal and very stressful for all members of the group. The generated stress can be fatal to both the captured animals and the rest of the group. It is not uncommon that many animals are injured or die during capture. The mortality rate of captured animals is very high. They often die within a few days. When not fatal, stress can affect the immune system of animals and it makes them more vulnerable to diseases. In addition, capture separates animals of the same family or the same group.
Belgian legislation on the welfare of captive cetaceans:
- Law of 14 August 1986 on the protection and welfare of animals
- The Ministerial decree of 03 May 1999 laying down minimum norms for keeping mammals in zoological parks