Could I buy a dolphin?

Is it legal for a private citizen to own a dolphin? Where could I buy one? How much would it cost?

Japan still ‘harvests’ dolphins in great big nets. The survivors that aren’t too badly hurt by the nets are sold to dolphinariums all over the world, the rest are sold as meat in Japan.

If you like dolphins, you don’t want to encourage this practice. Here’s the lowdown, and homepage of one-time Flipper trainer and current dolphin activist Ric O’Barry.

Agreed a dolphin is the last animal you would want to capture, and own. Their brain cavity is larger than a humans and the grey matter inbetween weighs more than ours. meaning they are extremely smart. There’s that - and the 1973 Marine Mammal Protection Act with may put a damper on your plan.
Why not just live near the ocean and befriend a small pod of dolphins.

If you like dolphins that much and have the time, money and drive then become a Marine Biologist. :cool:

BTW dolphins aren’t necessarily “nice” animals. If you’re in the water with them, you had best watch your step. They are large and can be quite aggressive if they are so inclined.

You can buy pieces of dolphin at any decent fishmonger. I would imagine for not much more you could get a whole dolphin.

I believe you could buy a dolphin from a place like Sea World. However, as others have said or implied, it ain’t the original cost, which would probably be high, but the god damned upkeep.

You planin’ on winnin’ the lottery?

It doesn’t mean that at all. Brain cavity or “grey matter in between” (whatever that means) doesn’t have much at all to do with intelligence, hence the reason why rats can be more intelligent than sheep despite the entire rat weighing less than the sheep brain. There are dozens of different dolphins and they don’t appear to be extremely smart by the standards of large mammals. Insofar as intelligence can be measured they are probably about as smart as wolves and slightly smarter than dogs, and plenty of people enjoy keeping pet dogs and even pet primates, which are smarter than doplhins.

Assuming you’re in the US, I think the Marine Mammal Protection Actwould make it illegal for most people to obtain a dolphin from the wild:

From this link:

I don’t think it addresses purchasing a dolphin already in captivity - but I think the supply is pretty small. Maybe if you donated a new wing to Sea World??


Yeah, dolphins can get violently envious of creatures with feet.


You can’t capture or own a marine mammal in the US without a permit from the government. In order to get a permit you have to show why you should have one. Usually permits are given for “public display” or “research” reasons only.

Even if you could convince the government to allow you to get one it would be an extremely expensive “pet”… you would have to build a huge salt water pool, find an exotic animal vet to take care of it in case it got sick, feed it expensive fresh fish daily and that doesn’t even count the cost to purchase one which would be between $50,000 and $100,000 depending on which species you wanted. And you wouldn’t just get one… it would get lonely.

Alternately you could open a marine mammal rescue center and wait for a sick animal to stran itself, but again the costs would be enormous and they don’t usually survive too long at that point.

Other countries, such as Mexico I believe, have much less strict standards in this regard.

For the love of God just don’t force him to do tricks, like a common seal!

Ok size and weight of brain cavity has nothing to do with intelligence. However, saying a dolphin is not as smart as a dog or primate just doesn’t sit well with me. Dolphins utilize echo location to find foods, the desity of objects, depth, and a whole range of things we do not fully understand. I personally would put them at a highly intelligent level of consciousness.

Can you point to an on-line seller of dolphin?

If you do get a dolphin, be sure to buy it some toys.

url=“”]Here’s one for $1,450,000.

[sub]The USCG calls the Dauphin the ‘Dolphin’.[/sub]

I assume you are joking (unless you are in Japan), but for those who might think you are not, it should be pointed out that there is fish sometimes called “dolphin” (these days more commonly sold as “dorado” or “mahi-mahi”) that is completely different from the marine mammal.

url=“”]Here’s one for $1,450,000.

I give up.

Jeez, ya try to post a joke and you can’t get the code right. :frowning:

Couldn’t you just volunteer at the local zoo?