Could Robots End Animal Captivity In Zoos And Marine Parks

Source: Freethink

Could robotic dolphins help marine parks become more humane spaces where people can learn about and connect with nature? Edge Innovations thinks so.

The first step toward that future could be Delle, an 8.5-foot-long, 600-pound animatronic dolphin that’s able to swim semi-autonomously using simple AI, or remotely under control of a human operator. Delle swims and behaves so naturally that some audiences — and the fish it shares tanks with — can’t distinguish it from the real animal.

From an industry perspective, what’s probably most alluring about robotic dolphins isn’t what they can do, but what they don’t need: food, sleep, training, and veterinary care. That’s not to say robotic dolphins are cheap: Delle costs between $3 to $5 million, while a live dolphin can cost marine parks about $100,000.

It’s too early to determine exactly how much money marine parks could save with robotic dolphins, but making the switch would almost certainly save massive amounts of suffering among these smart, social sea creatures.