Dolphin Mosa (7), which was shipped from Curaçao to Saudi Arabia in June, has died. That was announced this week. According to Animal Rights, Mosa committed suicide. Can animals commit suicide? According to experts, this is plausible.
Mosa died by swimming hard against the edge of the basin. Animal Rights filed a lawsuit against the departure from Curaçao. Because according to the organization, the basin in the Fakieh Aquarium in Saudi Arabia is far too small.
But can animals really commit suicide? You sometimes see frustrated animals that keep walking the same circle. But according to Karen Soeters of House of Animals, it doesn’t stop there. Animals are quite similar to humans in that regard, she says.
“You see automutilation in animals,” says Soeters. “For example, pigs that start to gnaw on themselves. Those behaviors in humans are indicative of serious disorders or trauma. And so it seems absolutely very possible that an animal will commit suicide.” Soeters emphasizes that it is difficult to prove that animals actually commit suicide deliberately, but according to her it seems that it does.
Biologist Midas Dekkers is more nuanced. Animals don’t have consciousness like we do, he says. But animals that don’t feel well can do strange things. “The rule is that if animals kill themselves, they are not in the right mind. But you can’t make animals good in their head either, for example by locking them up in a box that is far too small.”
But zooming in on dolphins, it seems that this species is more self-aware than other animals. Dolphins breathe consciously, says Dirk-Jan Verdonk, director of World Animal Protection Netherlands. They could also decide themselves to stop breathing.
No farewell letter
“For dolphins, it is a conscious decision to stop breathing. So that really indicates that animals no longer had the will to live,” says Verdonk. “Obviously you can throw all kinds of philosophical reflections on that, about whether they understand the concept of death, but the fact that an animal makes a conscious decision not to breathe anymore can be seen as a form of suicide,” he says. .
Verdonk thinks that dolphin Mosa in Saudi Arabia was extremely frustrated by its small basin, so it went wrong. “Out of that frustration comes self-destructive behavior, an act of desperation. Of course you never know for sure. They don’t leave a suicide note. But we should certainly not exclude the possibility that something tragic like suicide occurs among dolphins.”
Are you thinking about suicide or worried about someone else? Call 0800-0113 or chat via 113.nl.