"We want to reach psychologists with this message, because DAT is increasingly being applied to children with developmental disabilities, although there is no good evidence that it works," said Lilienfeld, a clinical psychologist. "It's hard to imagine the rationale for a technique that, at best, makes a child feel good in the short run, but could put the child at risk of harm."
The Emory scientists have timed their campaign to coincide with a recent call by two UK-based non-profits the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and Research Autism to ban the practice of DAT.
While Marino is against taking dolphins from the wild and holding them captive for any purpose, she finds DAT especially egregious, because the people who are being exploited are the most vulnerable including desperate parents who are willing to try anything to help a child with a disability.
Many people are under the impression that dolphins would never harm a human. "In reality, injury is a very real possibility when you place a child in a tank with a 400-pound wild animal that may be traumatized from being captured," Marino says.
Dolphins are bred in captivity in U.S. marine parks, but in other countries they are often taken from the wild. "If people knew how these animals were captured, I don't think they would want to swim with them in a tank or participate in DAT," Marino says, referring to an annual "dolphin drive" in Japan. "During the dolphin drives hundreds of animals are killed, or panicked and die of heart attacks, in water that's red with their blood, while trainers from facilities around the world pick out young animals for their marine parks. They hoist them out of the water, sometimes by their
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