Scientist Statement Supporting Research in Marine Mammal Facilities

April 8, 2016
We, the undersigned members of the scientific community, wish to acknowledge the importance
of marine mammals in zoos, aquariums, and marine mammal facilities, and express our support
for research conducted at these facilities. We know that critical research findings have come from
studies of dolphins and related species in managed care environments, which have provided the
vast majority of what is known about their perception, physiology, and cognition. This includes
both basic facts about these animals (e.g., echolocation and how it works1, diving physiology2,
energetics3, gestation period4, hearing range5, signature whistles6, and so forth) and applied
information such as how they react to environmental stressors7 and how to diagnose and treat
their diseases.8

The benefits of such research extend well beyond the animals in zoological facilities. The
interpretation of data from field studies is directly informed by what we have learned about the
cognition and physiology of these animals in managed care settings. Moreover, because science is
inherently a collaborative endeavor, research findings from these animals contribute to our
collective understanding across the animal kingdom. Finally, research in managed care settings
impacts conservation efforts by: (a) providing the baseline information necessary to inform
conservation plans and practices (e.g., typical respiration rates, metabolic rates, gestation length,
hearing range and thresholds, etc.), (b) documenting physiological and behavioral responses to
environmental stressors such as sound and contaminants7 to inform population managers, and (c)
developing and testing techniques and tools for assessing animals in the field.9

The advances that have come from research in marine mammal facilities could not have come
from studies of animals in the wild. Field studies are crucial, however, many research questions
are unsuited to discovery at a distance. Studies of pregnancy, birth, and fine-scale calf
development require the type of close and consistent observation that is only possible in
zoological settings. The hypothesis testing required for questions about cognition, perception, and
physiology requires the ability to present animals with specific situations and challenges utilizing
the necessary controls, consistency, and repetition that are impossible to achieve in the wild.
Indeed, as with research in any discipline, a comprehensive understanding of these animals
requires a combination of both in-situ and ex-situ studies; studies based in the wild and in
zoological settings. This idea is neither new nor specific to marine mammals, but is critical to the
way scientific discovery works.

Sincerely,
Francisco Aboitiz, PhD, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
José Fco. Zamorano Abramson, PhD, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Michael Adkesson, DVM, Dipl ACZM, Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo
Javier Almunia, PhD, Loro Parque Fundación
Richard Bates, PhD, University of St. Andrews
Gordon B. Bauer, PhD, New College of Florida
Don R. Bergfelt, PhD, Ross University, School of Veterinary Medicine
Gregory D. Bossart, VMD, PhD, Georgia Aquarium
Ann E. Bowles, PhD, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
David Brammer, DVM, DACLAM, University of Houston
Micah Brodsky, VMD, V.M.D. Consulting
Jason N. Bruck, PhD, University of St. Andrews, School of Biology, Sea Mammal Research Unit
Josep Call, PhD, University of St Andrews
Susan Carey, PhD, Harvard University
Tonya Clauss, DVM, Georgia Aquarium
Fernando Colmenares, PhD, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Richard C. Connor, PhD, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Boris Culik, PhD, F3
Leslie M. Dalton, DVM, SeaWorld San Antonio
Fabienne Delfour, PhD, L.E.E.C., Paris 13 University
Alistair D.M. Dove, PhD, Georgia Aquarium
Samuel Dover, DVM, Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute
Kathleen M. Dudzinski, PhD, Dolphin Communication Project; Managing Editor, Aquatic Mammals Journal
Holli Eskelinen, PhD, Dolphins Plus
Andreas Fahlman, PhD, Texas A&M- Corpus Christi
Antonio Jesús Fernández Rodríguez, DVM, PhD, Veterinary School University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Vanessa Fravel, DVM, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Steven J.M. Gans, MD, St. Jansdal Hospital
Joseph Gaspard, PhD, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
William G. Gilmartin, President, Hawai`i Wildlife Fund
Heidi E. Harley, PhD, New College of Florida
Basilio Valladares Hernández, PhD, Universidad de La Laguna
Susan Hespos, PhD, Northwestern University
Heather M. Hill, PhD, St. Mary’s University
Matthias Hoffmann-Kuhnt, PhD, Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore
Bradley Scott Houser, DVM, Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium
Marina Ivančić, DVM, DACVR, AquaVetRad
Kelly Jaakkola, PhD, Dolphin Research Center
Frants H. Jensen, PhD, Aarhus University
Allison B. Kaufman, PhD, University of Connecticut, Avery Point
Robin Kelleher Davis, PhD, Harvard Medical School & Schepens Eye Research Institute
Stephanie L. King, PhD, Centre for Evolutionary Biology, University of Western Australia
Stan Kuczaj, PhD, University of Southern Mississippi
Robert C. Lacy, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society
Jef Lamoureux, PhD, Boston College
Gregg Levine, DVM
Klaus Lucke, PhD, Centre for Marine Science & Technology, Curtin University
Heidi Lyn, PhD, University of Southern Mississippi
Radhika Makecha, PhD, Eastern Kentucky University
Katherine McHugh, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society
Eduardo Mercado III, PhD, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Lance Miller, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo
Paul Nachtigall, PhD, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii
Shawn R Noren, PhD, Institute of Marine Science, University of California, Santa Cruz
Steven Pinker, PhD, Harvard University
Michael S. Renner, DVM, Marine Mammal Veterinary Consulting Practice
Jill Richardson, PhD, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Fernando Rosa, PhD, Universidad de La Laguna
James A. Russell, PhD, Boston College
Steve Shippee, PhD, Marine Wildlife Response
K. Alex Shorter, PhD, University of Michigan
Mark S. Sklansky, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Brandon Southall, PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz
Judy St. Leger, DVM, DACVP, SeaWorld
Grey Stafford, PhD, Aquatic Mammals Editorial Board
Jeffrey L. Stott, PhD, University of California, Davis
Francys Subiaul, PhD, The George Washington University
Alex Taylor, PhD, University of Auckland
Roger K. R. Thompson, PhD, Franklin & Marshall College
Walter R. Threlfall, DVM, PhD, DACT, The Ohio State University
Dietmar Todt, PhD, Free University of Berlin
Michael Tomasello, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Forrest Townsend Jr, DVM, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Marie Trone, PhD, Valencia College
Jennifer Vonk, PhD, Oakland University
David A. Washburn, PhD, Georgia State University
Rebecca Wells, DVM, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Randall Wells, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society
Nathan P. Wiederhold, Pharm.D, FCCP, University of Texas Health Science Center at San
Antonio
Daniel Wilkes, PhD, Centre for Marine Science and Technology, Curtin University
Clive D. L. Wynne, PhD, Arizona State University
Pamela K. Yochem, DVM, PhD, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
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