Dolphins deserve human rights. That's the statement being made by scientists at Emory University in Atlanta, who say that the mammals are so intelligent they deserve the status of "non-human persons." After years of studying dolphin brains, the researchers have concluded that aquatic mammals are more mentally advanced than chimpanzees, placing them second only to humans. Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory, says that there is a strong “psychological continuity” between humans and dolphins that requires they be given the status of equals. Is it time to start treating dolphins like people?
This is just a step in a broader movement: Environmentalists are already pushing for animals to have the same "inalienable rights" as humans, says Jaymi Helmbuch at Treehugger. Some countries, such as Spain, have even granted these rights to "great apes" already. Although it would be a "long fight" to give dolphins human rights, this discovery and the subsequent debate only strengthens the argument for "treating all of Earth's living things with respect and deference."
"Scientists Say Dolphins Should Be Granted Human Status"
An admirable idea — but unworkable: This may be an appealing notion, says Greenmuze.com, but it's "extremely problematic." Think of the “multi-million dollar industry” that relies on these intelligent mammals. It's hard to imagine "marine parks, aquariums, and dolphin swim tourist attractions" freeing their captured dolphins — or the "U.S. Navy," either. And ethically, there's something wrong with giving animals rights based on "human-defined intelligence." What then becomes of animals "deemed unintelligent by human standards or criteria"?
"Dolphins deserve rights"
Dolphins aren't like us — they're better: Saying dolphins are like humans is “damning them with faint praise,” says Tony Norman in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Our “sense of transcendence” has led the human race to do some pretty “heinous” things — from “animal and human genocide” to our "compulsion to crush those of different religions, races, ideologies, and sexual orientation." Are they like us? I'm sure “most self-respecting dolphins would bitterly resent the comparison.”
"If only we were as smart as dolphins"