Virgin Holidays has pledged $300,000 to support the creation of North America’s first dolphin sanctuary and the move of seven captive dolphins at the National Aquarium in Baltimore to the facility. Last year, Virgin Holidays announced—after consultation with AWI and other stakeholders—that it would support the creation of seaside sanctuaries for dolphins and would not sign up any new attractions featuring captive dolphins performing or swimming with tourists.
The sanctuary’s exact location has yet to be determined, but the focus is currently on Florida. As stated in an April press release from Virgin: “The sanctuary will provide the dolphins with a much bigger living space, and allow them to enjoy a fully natural seaside location including ocean tides, temperature variations, and other natural ocean life such as fish, crabs and seaweed.” Humans would still care for the mostly captive-born dolphins, however.
The National Aquarium announced in June 2016 a revolutionary plan to move its colony of formerly performing dolphins from its indoor amphitheater pool to a seaside dolphin sanctuary by 2020. At the time, the aquarium’s CEO, John Racanelli, opined, “Although this decision is about a group of dolphins, it is every bit as much about our humanity; for the way a society treats the animals with whom it shares this planet speaks volumes about us.”