Just in time for World Oceans Day on June 8, UK poet Tomfoolery has teamed up with World Animal Protection to share a moving tale of ‘Dancing Dolphins’, answering his eight-year-old sister Sora’s big question ‘why are people mean to animals?’.
Tomfoolery’s moving piece shines a light on the plight of captive dolphins and hopes to connect with the hearts and minds of people to inspire change for the better.
Sora’s question of, ‘Why are people mean to animals?’ is one we should perhaps all consider a little deeper.
Watch the beautiful video
Sora: “Why are people mean to animals? It doesn’t make any sense.
They lock them up in tanks or cages, to perform at their events.
I don’t know why they have to do that. Why can’t we simply leave them be?
We’re meant to share the world with animals, so we should surely set them free?”
Tomfoolery: You are asking a very good question. And the answer’s sort of tough.
Some of our behaviour’s hard to justify, and many like you have had enough. It’s true we humans have developed dominion, over land and sky and sea.
But whether we’re the worthiest of shepherds, isn’t all that clear to me.
But as with anything that makes us angry, or stirs in us the need to fight. Let’s contemplate the motivations, to find the way to put things right.
This is the tale of the dancing dolphins, the ones that skipped upon the waves, They breathe the air the same way we do, and dance the deep for all their days,
The sailors say they follow their vessels, as they chart an ocean course unafraid to skim the surface, they’d somersault with little force.
They’re such a strange aquatic mammal, the kind that leaves you in a trance, And soon the stories started spreading, about the way the dolphins danced.
I couldn’t tell you how it started, and I don’t know precisely when,
But they began rounding up the dolphin pods, and placing them in pens, They traded fish with them for backflips, and gathered customers in groups,
And for the price of an admission, you’d sit and see them spring through hoops.
Who could resist a sight so splendid, a creature intelligent and profound? Before long, to watch the dolphin dance, children flocked from miles around. And while our eyes grew hypnotised by ballerinas of the sea,
A bigger business bloomed and blossomed with everyone’s collected fee.
And after a while the owners realised, the new found depths of their gold mine, They found that scouring the seas for servants was a whopping waste of time. And so now they bred new dancers, now born into the tanks they made,
Because how could a dolphin, that’s never seen the ocean, even know if its enslaved?
And this extends, my friend, past dolphins, elephants and jungle cats; we know we humans have bad habits, but now we’ve built bad habitats. And by the time anyone got to wondering if this behaviour was good, We’d built a beast so hard to banish that fed so many livelihoods.
Now I know this makes us angry, but understand, if you are able,
People are reluctant to look for kinder ways for that which puts food on their table. But here’s the power you have, little one, just as important as your voice,
As well as speaking up for what you believe in, we all possess a consumer choice.
And since the world’s compelled by commerce, and we consumers are so many, The only practices that sustain are those where we choose to spend our pennies. I’m so excited by your empathy, and so many children just like you.
Try to keep that kindness close with all the things you say and do.
Sora: “But can I really make a difference? There’s only one of me and I’m small.”
Tomfoolery: My love, the way you live sets an example, that could mean the difference to us all. Now, this story isn’t finished yet, but since this is between friends,
Let me tell you how I really hope our dolphin story ends.
One day, a girl, about your age, while drawing after school,
Saw something that affected her, that she knew, deep down, was cruel.
She asked her brother why the world could allow such things she knew were wrong. And together they began a story, with little hope it would catch on.
But maybe somebody heard their words, and on that day, made up their mind,
That they would help create the ending, and the call to be more kind.
And because your kindness is infectious, somehow it spread across the world, Because who knows the power of an honest question, when asked by you, my girl.
So keep being you, I promise it’s working. And one day soon, perhaps when you’re grown, All this captivity will fade into memory, and the dancing dolphins will find their way home.
Hopefully, this poem resonated with you too? If it did, please share this story and pass the message on.
Find out more about how you can help: www.worldanimalprotection.org.au
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