Dolphins are so intelligent that they should be thought of as ‘non-human persons’ and given their own bill of rights, it is claimed.
A coalition of scientists, philosophers and animal welfare groups have come up with a declaration of dolphin rights which they hope will one day be enshrined in law.
This would stop them being kept in zoos and waterparks, and being attacked by fishermen.
Whales would also be elevated above other animals by the list of rules, leading to whalers being classed as murderers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference heard in Vancouver.
Whale watching trips would be subject to regulations which would respect the creatures’ privacy, and developers and oil companies would have to give huge consideration to the effect their projects would have on the animals’ life and culture.
Philosopher Thomas White said: ‘Scientific evidence is now strong enough to support the claim that dolphins are, like humans, self-aware, intelligent beings with emotions and personalities.