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Swimming with captive dolphins: current debates and post-experience dissonance

By Susanna C. Curtin and Keith Wilkes


Dolphins have widespread contemporary appeal and anthropomorphic social representations of dolphins have fuelled a growing desire in tourist populations to seek interaction with them. This paper is concerned with the staged performance of swim-with-dolphin interaction programmes in aquaria. Qualitative interviews with tourists who have swum with captive dolphins identified their immediate recollections and stressed the grace, size and power of dolphins, but also a belief that the experience was too staged, too short and too expensive. Post-purchase dissonance focused on concerns with the size of enclosures and about captivity, too many tricks, limited interpretation and unfulfilled expectations of a quality interaction

Topics: tou
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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