Captivity isn't any place for wild animalsSome very...

the Forum

July 15, 1993

Captivity isn't any place for wild animals

Some very pertinent information was not included in the Forum Extra of June 25.

Dolphins are unable to use sonar while in captivity. The National Aquarium in Baltimore was forced to relocate several dolphins because the psychological stress of captivity had resulted in physical illness (ulcers).

There is no rational need to train dolphins to interact with people; these highly intelligent mammals are inherently sociable and interact well with humans without the need for any training. Studies have shown that 50 percent of dolphins die in captivity.

Cetaceans normally live for approximately 50 years in the wild but only average a five-year life span while in captivity. Capture of cetaceans from the wild depletes natural populations and reduces genetic diversity. It has been found that cetaceans in captivity have a very low birth survival rate.

Aquaria, oceanaria and marine mammal parks send an educational message that it is acceptable for the human species to exploit nonhuman species. (Many factors account for this -- tourism, monetary gain from admission fees, etc.) The more appropriate mode of educational message: to study these species in the natural habitats.

The captivity of animals for human gain leads to the mistaken notion that we can continue to drive species to extinction by continued pollution which kills other species.

We need to keep animals in their natural environments and, at the same time, begin to function in our daily lives using nonpolluting methods to keep our society functioning; only minimal changes in the way we function on a day-to-day basis are necessary to save the planet from the ultimate destruction by human habits.

Ultimately, the choice is ours; how we spend our money to purchase nonpolluting companies' products, recycling and the like will be the answer to the survival of all species (human and nonhuman) and will make a statement that we are caretakers/stewards of this planet, not the exploiters and conquerors of it.

Carol A. Johnson


The writer is the founder of the Baltimore Animal Information and Referral Network.

Backing Berger

Recently, much publicity has surrounded the superintendent of Baltimore County public schools and the board of education. It evident that the superintendent's leadership and initiative in bringing about change and moving a long-standing, conservative and traditional school system forward has met with unparalleled resistance.

As a principal in Baltimore County, I support and applaud the efforts of the board of education and Superintendent Stuart Berger in their struggle to implement a variety of programs and strategies to lead all students to the year 2000.

Within a year, Dr. Berger has implemented an all-day kindergarten program in various elementary schools.

His leadership and knowledge has enabled all middle school principals to create student-centered schools that reflect national education practices.

Block scheduling, interdisciplinary teams, exploratory programs and performance-based assessments are household words in Howard, Carroll and Montgomery counties. After 10 years of study and discussion in Baltimore County, these programs are now being implemented in all middle schools -- thanks to Dr. Berger.

Dr. Berger and the Board of Education have moved the decision-making process from its headquarters in Towson to every neighborhood in Baltimore County.

They have empowered each principal to involve parents and teachers in the decision-making process in developing and implementing curriculum, grouping students, organizing schools for instruction, hiring personnel and managing large budgets. This leadership model gives each neighborhood the opportunity to develop a community school based on the needs of its students.

I believe that our schools are enabling more students to meet with success than ever before. Regardless of how people feel about Dr. Berger's style, his love for children and vision for change and progress cannot be matched.

G. Roger Proudfoot


The writer is the principal of Johnnycake Middle School.

Football frenzy

It is a shame that so many people are working so hard to bring a football team to Baltimore. At a time when we are trying to protect our children from violence on television, shouldn't we consider the effect on them of violence on the football field?

Football is a sport where a prime object is to push people aside and knock them down -- hard. Fans are often yelling "Get him!" or "Kill him!" to encourage these legal assaults.

The glorification of football, like the glorification of shootout-filled TV shows, sends our children the very dangerous message that, no matter what adults say about violence, they really do like it.

Can you blame a young boy for thinking it is not so bad to beat up on his schoolmates when he sees how gleefully his father applauds his Sunday afternoon heroes pouncing on their opponents and ramming them into the ground?

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