The 10 Rights for Dolphins as ‘Non-Human Persons’
The feeding drastically altered Beggar’s behavior, leaving him more susceptible to injury from boats he tried to approach. A necropsy performed on Beggar’s body revealed multiple watercraft inflicted wounds and a stomach filled with items not normally included in a dolphin’s diet such as fishing hooks, strands of fishing line, and squid beaks, as well as several ulcers of varying severity. He also had multiple broken ribs and vertebrae and was dehydrated—probably because he wasn’t eating the normal dolphin diet that would provide him with the hydration he needed. While no single cause of death could be determined, Beggar’s necropsy suggests that humans had a hand in it.
Twenty years of age is the average lifespan of a dolphin, but steady observation of Beggar revealed that human interference may have dramatically reduced his quality of life. In 100 hours, Dr. Katie McHugh of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program documented 3,600 interactions between Beggar and humans with up to 70 interactions an hour, 169 attempts to feed him 530 different kinds of food, which included hot dogs and beer, and 121 attempts to touch him resulting in 9 bites (probably because he thought people’s fingers looked like little Vienna sausages). Rather than spend time with other dolphins, Beggar spent his days hounding humans for food. When law enforcement was present on the water, humans were less likely to approach Beggar and, consequently, Beggar was more likely to forage for food on his own like a normal dolphin.