Must dolphins dance to BTS
if they’re not free?

The irony of using a song about freedom to promote
captive animal shows was not lost on viewers

Dolphins ham it up for the Ocean Adventure Subic video.

VIEWERS had mixed reactions to a recent Facebook post by Ocean Adventure Subic, featuring both trained animals and staff dancing to the BTS hit Permission To Dance. While many thought it was cute and uplifting, others pointed out that animals, particularly marine animals like dolphins and sea lions accustomed to wide open spaces to swim in, do not belong in marine parks, performing tricks to entertain humans.

The debate continues over whether or not zoos and marine parks are a good idea, and if they are doing animals more harm than good. In a recent interview with the New York Times, primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall qualified that when a zoo or facility is properly run, and gives the animal sufficient space and attention, the creature could be quite safe and happy.

Indeed, many such zoos and aquariums have become true partners in conservation. Emphasis, of course, is on “properly run.” Unfortunately, marine animals require much more space than marine parks, which operate on profit, can provide them in order to thrive; one only has to think about dolphins, which travel miles and miles of ocean, kept in tiny tanks.

The award-winning 2013 documentary film Blackfish was about how the stress of captivity was believed to have led Tilikum, a captive orca at Seaworld, to kill three of its handlers. Many sea animals in captivity also end up suffering from respiratory diseases, of all things, from too much human contact (read: photo ops).

How a commercial establishment has appropriated the song to promote itself while trying to avoid paying royalties

The use of the new song by BTS, Permission to Dance, which ironically promotes the idea of freedom despite the limitations in the world today imposed by COVID-19, was another point of contention. Music is for all to enjoy, but while the Ocean Adventure Subic post includes a disclaimer that the song was used “for entertainment purposes only,” some fans are questioning how a commercial establishment has appropriated the song to promote itself while trying to avoid paying royalties—perhaps by not playing the song in its entirety? Hello, Hybe Entertaiment?

A lot of those who commented on the post claimed to be BTS fans, and were “very happy” with the video, which is disheartening. Maybe it would do such fans good to understand at what cost that happiness comes, and if it truly aligns with the values the philanthropic and socially conscious Korean group is trying to promote.

Another mother argued, “But this is the only way my kid can see dolphins up close!” If a parent’s idea of showing a child how a dolphin truly lives is bringing him or her to a show where these magnificent animals are reduced to jumping hoops at a human’s signal, then that parent may be doing that child an injustice, showing him or her another “short-cut” to instant gratification.

Bring children to nature; let them swim in the sea or walk in forests instead of eating cotton candy sitting in an artificial marine park. Then again, that’s your choice as a parent.

Ultimately, children must realize that these animals are wild, they should be respected, and they could be disappearing soon because their elders messed up the job of caring for their planet. The Earth is not ours alone.

See the Facebook post here:

About author


She is a writer, editor, breast cancer and depression survivor, environmental advocate, dog mother to three asPins, Iyengar yoga instructor and BTS Army Tita. She edits part-time for a broadsheet, but is headed towards a full-time vocation as an online English writing coach and grammar nazi.

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