Inside The Complicated & Expensive Process Of Returning Captive Dolphins To The Wild

Jun 2, 2015

All of the photography featured in the slide show are from the June issue of National Geographic magazine. You can find more photos from Tim Zimmermann's feature article, "Born to Be Wild" at National Geographic's website.

Returning captive dolphins to the wild is not as simple as opening up the gate and letting the mammal return to the sea. Living in captivity, under the close supervision and care of humans literally turns their world upside down. Dolphins in captivity spend most of their time near the surface of the water, receiving food and commands from their trainers in regular intervals. In order to reacclimatize them to wild, they have to be taught to hunt for their meals, and reset their internal clocks to the unpredictable nature of the ocean. 

We spoke to Tim Zimmermann about the process of retraining dolphins to survive in the wild. He has written extensively about the captive dolphin and killer whale industry and is the author of National Geographic’s June feature story: “Born to Be Wild.” Tim is also the associate producer and co-writer of the documentary Blackfish.

The June cover of National Geographic
Credit National Geographic