Tursiops Truncatus … So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tursiops Truncatus ... So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

This painting, in oil on canvas, features iconography borrowed from the Harlequin motif that was developed at the turn of the 20th Century by artists including Pablo Picasso and Paul Cezanne.
Harlequin or Arlecchino in Italian, Arlequin in French, and Arlequín in Spanish is the most popularly known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell’arte and its descendant, the Harlequinade. The primary aspect of Harlequin was his physical agility. While generally depicted as stupid and gluttonous, he was very nimble and performed the sort of acrobatics the audience expected to see. The character would never perform a simple action when the addition of a cartwheel, somersault, or flip would spice up the movement.
According to some early illustrations, it would appear that Harlequin had the ability to breast feed his baby child  …
Cezanne and Picasso used a number of pictorial devices, including colour and pose, to create a sense of pathos within their images of Harlequin; and this pathos might well resonate with the condition of captive dolphins. Following a series of findings by animal welfare authorities, we no longer have any dolphinaria or performing dolphins in the UK – but they can still be seen, if you so wish, in many places in continental Europe and in the USA. This is in spite of research dating from earlier than 1993 that has caused a number of leading scientists to redefine cetaceans as non-human “persons”.
Here is an extract from a recent article on the BBC News:
Dolphins deserve to be treated as non-human “persons” whose rights to life and liberty should be respected, scientists meeting in Canada have been told. A small group of experts in philosophy, conservation and dolphin behaviour were canvassing support for a “Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans”. They believe dolphins – and their whale cousins – are sufficiently intelligent and self-aware to justify the same ethical considerations given to humans. Recognising cetaceans’ rights would mean an end to … the captivity of dolphins and whales, or their use in entertainment. The move is based on years of research that has shown dolphins and whales to have large, complex brains and a human-like level of self-awareness. This has led the experts to conclude that although non-human, dolphins and whales are “people” in a philosophical sense, which has far-reaching implications.

Ethics expert Professor Tom White, from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, author of In Defence of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier, said: “Dolphins are non-human persons. A person needs to be an individual. If individuals count, then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being. The captivity of beings of this sort, particularly in conditions that would not allow for a decent life, is ethically unacceptable … We’re saying the science has shown that individuality, consciousness, self-awareness, is no longer a unique human property. That poses all kinds of challenges.”

The declaration, originally agreed in May 2010, contains the statements “every individual cetacean has the right to life”, “no cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude, be subject to cruel treatment, or be removed from their natural environment”, and “no cetacean is the property of any state, corporation, human group or individual”.

The US authors brought their message to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Canada, the world’s biggest science conference.

Psychologist Dr Lori Marino, from Emory University in Atlanta, told how scientific advances had changed the view of the cetacean brain. She said: “We went from seeing the dolphin/whale brain as being a giant amorphous blob that doesn’t carry a lot of intelligence and complexity to not only being an enormous brain but an enormous brain with an enormous amount of complexity, and a complexity that rivals our own. Its different in the way it’s put together but in terms of the level of complexity it’s very similar to the human brain.” Dolphins had a sense of self which could be tested by the way they recognise themselves in mirrors, she added. When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror and know that’s you, you have a sense of ‘you’,” said Dr Marino. “They have a similar sense. They can look in a mirror and say, ‘Hey, that’s me’.

“Once you shift from seeing a being as a property, a commodity, a resource, to a person, an autonomous entity that has a right to life on his or her own terms, the whole framework shifts …”

Read the full article here.

Dolphin keeping ceased in the UK in 1993 with the last three female dolphins from Flamingoland being relocated to European facilities.

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