Celebrity dancer and reality TV judge Sharna Burgess has weighed in on Sea World’s practice of breeding and keeping dolphins in captivity in Australia.
The Wagga Wagga–born Dancing With the Stars icon – who competed on the show in the US for 13 seasons and served as a judge in the Australian version – appears in a brand-new PETA campaign to urge everyone to stay away from Sea World.
In an exclusive, behind-the-scenes interview, Burgess recalls that she visited the marine park on the Gold Coast as a child and wanted to swim with dolphins, before she realised what kind of life that meant for the animals.
“If there was ever a time where we could in some way understand and empathise [with] what these animals in captivity go through, it would be now,” says Burgess.
“We’ve just come out of a near yearlong lockdown because of COVID … losing [ourselves] being locked in the house, not having access to the things that give [us] freedom.
Think about what isolation felt like. And now think about that for these animals.”
In nature, highly intelligent and social dolphins swim long distances, form complex relationships, and choose their own mates. But those held captive at Sea World are confined to cramped, chemically treated tanks and deprived of opportunities to roam free, dive deep, and experience life on their own terms.
Earlier this year, New South Wales – the neighbour state to Sea World’s home in Queensland – implemented a ban on captive-dolphin breeding and the importation of dolphins to the state. The ban follows Tripadvisor’s 2019 announcement that it would no longer sell tickets to captive-dolphin displays. Sea World on the Gold Coast now has the shameful distinction of being the only marine park in the country to continue breeding dolphins in captivity.
“In Australia, there is such a culture [of] support for marine animals and marine life. We love them, we respect them, we think they’re magical – but it is, at the same time, disappointing that we have a Sea World, and I think there is something there that doesn’t quite match up,” says Burgess.
How to Help Dolphins
Burgess is the latest in a growing list of celebrities – including Charlotte Crosby, Bella Thorne, Noah Cyrus, Pamela Anderson, and Krysten Ritter – who have teamed up with PETA or our international affiliates to speak out against marine parks.
Burgess explains that helping dolphins can be as simple as having a conversation with friends and family who may be considering going to Sea World, noting that “for their one day of joy and memories and photos that they get to take at marine parks, it is a lifetime of pain and suffering for those animals.”
Want to do more? Join us in urging the Queensland government to follow New South Wales’ lead by banning dolphin breeding!