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When our colleagues at PETA India learned that state governments were planning to open dolphin parks around the country, they immediately contacted the appropriate officials to remind them that permission must be granted before such facilities can open.

In an unequivocal response, the Ministry of Environment and Forests said that it has not granted permission to keep dolphins in captivity and will not do so since tearing them away from their families, confining them to cramped tanks, and forcing them to perform constitutes cruelty and violates India’s anti-cruelty laws.

In support of its May 2013 decision, the ministry referenced scientists’ calls for these intelligent and sensitive animals to be recognized as “nonhuman persons” deserving of their own specific rights.

PETA had already put that debate into the legal discourse when we filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against SeaWorld for violating orcas’ rights under the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits the condition of slavery without reference to “persons” or any particular class of victim. Torn from their rightful home, kept against their will, and forced to work for SeaWorld’s profit, wild-caught orcas are the very definition of slaves.

More and more families are refusing to buy tickets to marine abusement parks. The days of enslaving social ocean dwellers in concrete bathtubs are coming to an end.

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