Can You Own a Pet Dolphin?

Can You Own a Pet Dolphin? Is It Legal?

Can you have Dolphins as Pets? Do you dream of owning a dolphin in the USA? If yes, then you should not miss the information articulated below:

Dolphin is a widespread marine animal found in most parts of the world. They prefer the warm waters of the tropic zones though some of them even prefer colder climates.

Dolphins are considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world. Their several cognitive abilities set them apart from both land and water animals.

According to studies and research, dolphins’ minds are a perfect combination of perception, communication, and problem-solving.

Dolphins swim and live in water as gracefully (if not more) as fishes, though they aren’t fish but mammals. Currently, there are about 49 dolphin and porpoise species.

These aquatic mammals are truly varied from the Bottlenose Dolphins (most popular amongst all) to the Ganges River Dolphin, Amazon River Dolphin, and Risso’s Dolphin.

History of Dolphins

Dolphins, one of the Cetaceans, are known to originate 50 million years ago in the Eocene epoch. The ones we know today are mammals; however, early Dolphins were amphibious, whereas their ancestors were terrestrial artiodactyls.

 Dolphins’ (Cetaceans) transmission from land to water is even documented in a series of intermediate fossils.

Dolphins also have had a huge significance in human culture and religion for years. According to Hindu Mythology (India), Dolphins were amongst the creatures who indicated goddess Ganga’s descent from the heavens.

Dolphins sometimes are also depicted as Makara, a legendary sea creature in Hindu Mythology. The reference to Dolphins can also be found in the Greek Mythology, where it was seen invariably as helpers of humankind.

Can You Own a Pet Dolphin?

Dolphins Species Overview

Other NamesNo other Name
Scientific NameDelphinus
Order and InfraorderArtiodactyla and Cetacea
Family and Subspecies
Delphinidae and D. d. delphisD. d. bairdiiD. d. ponticusD. d. tropicalis
Lifespan10 to 60 years depending upon the Species
Size1.7-metre-long (5 ft 7 in) and 50-kilogram (110-pound) 
To 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in) and 10-tonne (11-short-ton)
Incubation10 to 18 months depending upon the Subspecies

 Do Dolphins Make Good Pets?

Dolphins are social, friendly, and one of the most admirable creatures around the world. However, even after that, they do not make a very great pet. From their size to their lifestyle and environment, bringing it all to a domestic setting isn’t easy.

Instead, keeping a pet Dolphin and creating a healthy living environment for them can prove extremely challenging.

Do you wonder how it would be to have a giant fish-like mammal bigger than yourself in an aquarium in your backyard?

Is It Legal to Keep Dolphins as A Pet?

According to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and other Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), possessing Dolphins is illegal and inhuman.

Catching Dolphins and keeping them at home would be considered felony animal abuse.

Doing so can lead the individual into deep legal trouble, including a heavy fine and long years of imprisonment.

Are Dolphins legal in the US?

The United States has no specific law for keeping Dolphins as pets.

Even though when it is a widespread belief that it is illegal to capture wild dolphins in America, individuals still domesticize them. It is only in California that the breeding or selling of Dolphins is strictly prohibited.

Whereas in the other part of the United States, it is legal to capture wild dolphins and pet them if you choose to.

However, since 1989 no permits or licenses for Dolphin capture have been issued anywhere around the States.

Can you have Dolphins as pets?

Having a Dolphin as a pet depends on so many factors. For instance,

  • Is it legal in your Country/ State/ Region to own a Pet Dolphin?
  • Do you have enough space and resources to build a space for keeping Dolphin?
  • Do you have enough time and money to look after a Pet Dolphin?
  • Can you obtain a permit to catch Dolphins from the wild since no breeders actually sell them?

If considerations like the above are in your favor, you may have Dolphins as a pet.

However, before going forward with the process, remember pet Dolphins are one of the greatest responsibilities.

No matter how cute and playful this creature appears in the ocean and zoo, having them at home is never a good idea.

Dolphins as Pets- You have to meet their needs

If you are sure about keeping Dolphins as a pet, here are some things you might need to know:

Dolphins Housing Needs

A habitat for pet dolphins is a unique environment. Keeping these aquatic mammals as pets is by no means an easy task. Their housing needs demand a huge space filled with water.

Though since most Dolphins are habitual to surviving in Freshwater, the parameters of swimming pool or aquarium water might not suit them. Maintaining the PH level, chlorine level, and TSS level will become crucial.

Dolphins’ Temperature & Humidity Needs

Dolphins are warm-blooded mammals, and they survive in temperate and tropical waters worldwide.

The surface water temperature generally ranges from 10° to 32°C (50° to 90° F). Though since they live mostly in water, their humidity needs aren’t specific.

Dolphins Dietary Needs

Dolphins are carnivorous and active predators. For every single day, an adult dolphin will eat about 5 percent of its body weight. The variety of food they consume includes fish, squids, and crustaceans.

Dolphins occasionally also feed on jellyfishes and are known to like them the most. Bigger Dolphins also attack seals and sharks in the marine, considering they make for a whole meal.

In captive (Zoo) or as pets, Dolphins must be fed varieties including live, fresh fish, or frozen fish. A variety of fishes, including mackerel, smelt, capelin, and herring, must be a part of their diet.

Dolphins Cleaning

Cleaning Dolphins isn’t a task; however, cleaning their waste from the pool or aquarium is.

Zoos and other facilities that keep Dolphins in captivity use a special filter to collect all the dolphin waste from water.

Common Health Problems with Dolphins

Dolphins can typically suffer from a lot of health problems. Issues like viral, bacterial, and fungal infections are extremely common for them.

Besides that, these aquatic animals also suffer from problems like stomach ulcers, skin diseases, tumors, heart disease, urogenital disorders, and respiratory disorders.

How Much Does a Dolphin Cost?

Dolphins are extremely expensive, maybe the highest amongst most exotic animals.

live bottlenose dolphin, if traded, can cost anywhere between $8,000 to $12,000.

Where to buy a dolphin? Where To Find a Dolphin Breeder?

There is a strict ban on buying and selling (legally) Dolphins all across the world.

That is why it is extremely rare to find a licensed breeder who is dealing in the Dolphin business.

Instead, individuals who wish to keep Dolphins as a pet have to catch one from the wild.

However, even for doing that, a special permit from high officials is a must.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do dolphins survive in captivity?

The average expectancy of Dolphins in captivity is about 25 to 28 years.

Do dolphins die early in captivity?

Yes, if compared to that in the wild, Dolphins die early in captivity.

Does a dolphin eat every day?

An adult Dolphin will eat 15 to 30 lbs of food every day to maintain a healthy life.

Can you adopt a dolphin?

Yes, it is possible to adopt Dolphins who are in aquariums or zoos. Though adopting here means sourcing finances for the betterment of the animal while it will still continue to live in the aquarium or zoo.

Can dolphins bite?

Yes, when disturbed, angry, frustrated, or afraid, Dolphins can bite.


Whether or not you can rightfully care for a Dolphin, keeping one as a pet isn’t the best idea. Dolphins are meant to live and grow in the wild, and thus it is the best place to let them be. Captivity can limit their growth potential and shorten their lifespan to a great extent.

If you are into Dolphins and want them to be around, simply visit beaches, rivers, and lakes and enjoy their presence. It is best to observe these creatures in their wild home from a safer distance.