Dolphins should be recognised as non human persons and have rights
The animals have distinctive cultures, societies and personalities and are so complex that they should be considered in the same light as people, experts said.
Isolating dolphins and orcas in tanks at amusement parks is morally wrong because the animals are even more socially driven than humans, they added, while killing them is tantamount to murder.
The marine experts hope to persuade international authorities to enshrine in law the rights of cetaceans, a group of water-dwelling mammals which also includes porpoises.
Discussing their "declaration of rights" for cetaceans at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, an international team of researchers said the animals should have the same rights to life, liberty and wellbeing as humans.
Dr Thomas White, an ethics expert at Loyola Marymount University in California, said: "The similarities between cetaceans and humans are such that they, as we, have an individual sense of self.
Written by, Nick Collins of the Telegraph
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