Wild Friend A Dolphin Display (WWF)

Wild Friend A Dolphin Display

“Where shall we go next?” Emily Oliver called to her mum and dad. She was standing in front of a large map that showed the whole of the Florida Marine Park and Aquarium. The sun was beating down; making her glad she was just wearing shorts and a T-shirt.

Wild Friend A Dolphin Display

Her parents joined her, and Emily traced with her finger the route they had taken since arriving that morning: they had started by walking through the viewing rooms of the coral reef gallery, where they had seen shoals of little fish swooping through the brightly coloured coral.

After that they had come outside for the water walk, where they had seen cute otters gamboling in streams and pink flamingos wading delicately through a lake.

“We could go to the water adventure zone,” suggested Emily’s dad, pointing to an area that showed a picture of water cannons and a large pirate ship.

But Emily didn’t want to play in the water. “No, I’d like to see more animals,” she said.

“That suits me!” her mum said with a smile, and Mr Oliver nodded too. They loved animals as much as Emily did! They both worked for an organization called WWF. It was a charity that worked hard to protect endangered animals and their habitats around the world. The Oliver’s travelled a lot with their jobs – and in the school holidays Emily often went with them. This was the first holiday in ages where they had just come away to relax, rather than being on WWF business. So far, they had spent two days in Disney World and chilled out in the beautiful house they were renting. But Emily had started to miss seeing animals, so they had decided to visit the nearby marine park.

“How about we walk along the wetlands trail and see some alligators?” suggested Mrs. Oliver.

Emily rubbed her nose. “Maybe…” She loved all animals, but alligators weren’t her favourite.

“Or how about this?” said her dad, checking out a whiteboard next to the map. “It says that there’s a dolphin show in the dolphin and sea lion centre in fifteen minutes. If we go quickly, we’ll just get there in time.”

Dolphins! Emily nodded hard. She loved dolphins! “Oh, please can we do that?”

“Dolphins it is, then!” her mum declared. “Come on. We’d better hurry!”

The dolphin pool was made out of white concrete. It was large and oval, with three metal stepladders and little platforms at the top of each one. The water was very blue. People could sit and watch the show on the tiered seating around the pool. By the time the Oliver’s arrived, the show was about to start and there were just a few spaces left right at the back. They climbed up the steps and sat down. “Do you know much about dolphins?” Emily’s dad asked.

Emily had never seen a dolphin in real life, but she knew a bit about them. “They’re mammals like whales, not fish like sharks,” she said, remembering what had been said on the documentary she’d seen on TV. “That means they can’t breathe underwater – they have to come up for air every so often. They breathe through their blowholes, not their mouths, and they give birth to their babies and feed them on milk.” Her dad nodded. “Oh, and they’re very intelligent.”

“That’s right,” Mr Oliver said. “They’ve got the largest brain of any marine mammal. They live in groups called pods, and can talk to each other using sounds like squeaks and whistles, and also by slapping their tails on the water.”

“Don’t they sometimes work as a team to catch fish?” Emily said, remembering one of the things she had read.

Her dad nodded. “They’ve also been known to team up in order to rescue other dolphins in trouble or even to help humans in danger. A group of lifeguards were once stranded in deep water and a shark was approaching. Forty dolphins surrounded them and kept the shark came.” away until help

“Wow!” Emily breathed. Dolphins really were incredible.

Just then music started to play and a voice crackled out over the loudspeaker.

“Welcome, everyone! Welcome to our dazzling dolphin display! Prepare to meet our two dolphins – give a big hand for Flicker and Splash!” Emily quickly pulled her camera out of her bag as three dolphin trainers came out. Two were wearing shorts and one was in a wetsuit. An underwater door opened, and two grey dolphins came streaking into the pool.

They burst out of the water together, sending droplets spraying everywhere as they raced over and dived back under in perfect time. As everyone clapped and cheered, they popped up again, their mouths open, as if they were grinning. They had pale grey skin and sparkling dark eyes.

They were absolutely beautiful. Emily tried to take some photos, but the dolphins were too far away. She wished she was closer, not sitting right at the back.

One of the trainers stepped forward. She had a radio microphone on. “Hi, everyone. I’m Tamsin and I’m the head dolphin trainer here. Flicker and Splash will be showing you some of the things they can do. Flicker, say hi!”

The larger dolphin did a backward flip into the water. The crowd whooped and cheered. Tamsin threw him a silver fish from a bucket. “And now, Splash, it’s your turn to say hi!”

The second dolphin waved a flipper. “Time to get this show started!” Tamsin cried.

There was another burst of music, and then the dolphins started performing the tricks they had been trained to do. They leaped up to the height of the tallest platform to get a fish, jumped through hoops, twisted and turned, and carried a flag through the water.

The trainer in the wetsuit got into the pool and they let her hold their fins and swam around the pool with her. After each trick they got a fish. The crowd clapped and cheered, but as the show went on, Emily started to feel a little bit torn. The dolphins did appear to be enjoying themselves, but she couldn’t help thinking that they would be happier out in the sea, in their natural habitat, rather than living in a concrete pool and performing for people every day.

It reminded her of visiting a zoo and watching an orang-utan playing with toys, or a bored-looking lion lying in his carefully constructed enclosure. However healthy and well cared for the animal was in captivity, she still always felt sad that they were no longer out in the wild.

She sat back in her seat, and when the show finished, she clapped but she didn’t cheer. Her mum gave her a questioning look. “Are you all right?”

“Yep,” Emily said quietly. They were surrounded by people saying how amazing the show had been; she didn’t want to start claiming that it wasn’t fair on the dolphins. But as they climbed down from their seats and left the dolphin viewing area, her mum nudged her.

“Something’s up. What is it, Em?”

“It’s the dolphins,” Emily admitted. “I wish they were out in the wild still – not stuck here, performing for people all the time.”

Her mum gave her an understanding look. “I know. I feel like that too. But I did check out this park before we came, and they keep their dolphins in very good conditions. They only have dolphins that have been bred in captivity or been orphaned as babies – dolphins who’ve never really known any other life and who would struggle to survive in the wild.”

Emily felt a bit better. “I’d love to see dolphins in the wild,” she said.

“Maybe you will one day,” her dad said.

Just then, Oliver’s mobile she checked the number. I’d better take call. From work.” She little distance away.

“How about we wait?” Mr Oliver said Emily.

“OK!” Emily their flavours. In end Mr Oliver for three different types chocolate plain and Emily decided on scoop of mango, scoop of strawberry and a scoop toffee flavour, with loads of sprinkles on top! They down on and ate their creams as they waited for Mrs. Oliver to get off the phone. Emily was just crunching up the end of her cone when her mum came over. She had a strange look on her face.

“Anything important?” Mr Oliver asked.

“Um…yes.” She looked at Emily. “You know you just said you’d really like to see dolphins in the wild…”

“Yes,” Emily said, hope suddenly flaring up inside her.

Her mum smiled. “Well, provided you mind cutting our holiday short, I think your wish could come true!”

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