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“Caring for Dolphins, Otters, and Octopuses: Speciesism in the Regulation of Zoos and Aquariums”

On August 1, 2009 by Schnader

Marla Conley, an associate in the Firm’s Philadelphia office, authored an article titled “Caring for Dolphins, Otters, and Octopuses: Speciesism in the Regulation of Zoos and Aquariums,” which was recently published in Lewis & Clark Law School’s Animal Law Review (Volume 15, Number 2, 2009). Current regulations for zoos and aquariums rely heavily on standards established by industry associations, and the government increasingly expects public display facilities to self-monitor. Unfortunately, the industry associations charged with policing zoos and aquariums lack the enforcement authority necessary to ensure that animals kept in these facilities receive adequate attention or resources.

The article argues that marine animals kept in public display facilities, such as zoos and aquariums, should benefit from the same level of regulatory protection as their land-bound counterparts. Even though marine animals demonstrate intellectual abilities equivalent or superior to those of land-bound animals, federal regulations allow facilities to keep marine animals in smaller enclosures with less social contact. Ms. Conley discusses existing regulations for the following three levels of animals in light of their physical and intellectual needs: dolphins as compared to elephants and nonhuman primates, otters as compared to dogs, and octopuses as compared to hamsters and rabbits. Finally, the article recommends several adjustments to existing regulations for marine animals.