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Question
Is it correct that a dolphin in the wild and or in captivity is not going to harm a human as long as you leave the animal alone? In the 1993 move Free Willy an adult told a child the same thing about a recent captured orca in an aquarium. http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/south/series1/lone-dolphins.shtml https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ti%C3%A3o

Answer
Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thanks the authors of the websites I used.

Dolphins vary in their temperament. http://connachttribune.ie/swimmers-are-warned-to-be-on-guard-after-dolphin-attac gives details about a female bottle-nosed dolphin, Dusty, which has attacked several people. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2721786/The-dark-dolphins-Mammal- gives details about a non-social bottle-nosed dolphin, Clet, which does not enjoy the company of humans and may attack them, but some experts say that some male dolphins may attack people when they feel amorous. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g240327-i395-k878371-When_Dolphins_Attack_at_the_Adventure_places-Puerto_Morelos_Yucatan_Peninsula.html and http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/06/health/evidence-puts-dolphins-in-new-light-as- contain similar information, while http://community.scholastic.com/dolphin-attacks-t411388.html gives an alternative point of view. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=68b_1375936218 shows a video. http://hubpages.com/animals/dolphin-encounter-dangers concerns attacks by captive dolphins on people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_whale_attacks_on_humans mentions various killer whale attacks on people.

Quite a few of these attacks have occurred fairly recently and some seem to have been unprovoked. It seems that some animals that had fairly benign images are using aggression to defend themselves from possible attack. I have books that state that pumas don't tend to be aggressive towards humans, but there have been several accounts of puma attacks recently. Also, Lindy Chamberlain's claim that a dingo ate her baby were ridiculed until it was shown that dingoes can attack people.

Dolphins and killer whales are highly intelligent animals and, like humans, I suspect that their temperaments vary according to circumstance. There are various animals that do not react well to being touched or even approached and I suggest that it is probably prudent to avoid dolphins and killer whales in the wild. The animals will be potentially more dangerous in the breeding season and when a mother is protecting her calf. This does not mean that all encounters with dolphins and killer whales are dangerous, but it is better to avoid them, rather than being a potential victim of a large, powerful animal.

I hope this helps.

All the best

Jonathan Wright

Wild Animals

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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