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It’s the new treat popping up in the captive dolphin shows all over America, jello treats!

May 25, 2011

It’s the new treat popping up in the captive dolphin shows all over America,  jello treats!

Loro Parque Orca Trainers With Colored Jelly Treat. © Loro Parque Image

Loro Parque Orca Trainers With Colored Jelly Treats. Loro Parque Image

Dolphin connection  in the Florida Keys describes Jello as a “special treat” for the dolphins.

“our creative thinking brought us to gelatin…the unflavored kind, of course. But, we wondered, could it harm them? Here’s what we found out (tuck this little baby away under useless stuff I know) – turns out gelatin is 98% water and 2% protein. Perfect! Why? Well, because dolphins eat fish (protein) and extract all of the fresh water they need from the fish that they eat. Okay, that makes it safe to feed, but would the dolphins eat it? Have to say, if we worried about that, it was wasted time…the dolphins LOVE IT! And soon we found that this gelatin thing could be used for much more than a treat or a toy…making our veterinarians LOVE IT too…here’s why:

If a dolphin isn’t feeling well, often one of our first indications is that they won’t eat fish. That means we have no way to get them nutrition, water, or medications. Red Alert! We have found however that gelatin is readily eaten, even when fish is not. Hallelujah! With cool, soothing gelatin, we can provide plenty of hydration and can hide vitamins and medications inside. They feel better almost immediately! But if not, we can even add nutrition to the gelatin by including ground up fish gruel into the mixture. Thank goodness we almost never need to go to such extremes, but it is such a relief to know that we have this valuable tool to use should we ever need it!”

It has long been rumored that captive orcas and dolphins get stomach ulcers often.  Gelatin is found to be used widely in the treatment of ulcers and blood clots in humans and animals. Gelatin contains peptides of which many of you will recall “Pepcid AC” being a common treatment for stomach ailments. Gelatin is made essentially from boiling the connective tissue, bones and intestines of cattle, pork and horses. The stomach ulcer of various origins is well prevented and healed by short peptides, which are part of gelatin. Gelatin’s short peptides – glyprolines – consist of amino acids of glycine and proline. It is them that protect the stomach mucous tunic from injuries. The highest antiulcer activity was discovered by the researchers with the PGP-sequence peptide: proline, glycine, proline. Glyprolines are easily absorbed in the stomach and remain in the blood for a long time without breaking up. They act not only on the stomach cells but also on the central nervous system overcoming the blood-brain barrier, therefore they cure even the ulcers caused by stress.

Glyprolines are natural peptides. They are generated in the organism in the course of collagen synthesis or decomposition. During the experiments carried out by the Moscow biologists, gelatin (partly hydrolyzed collagen) added to rats’ feed partly protected the rats from ulcer. Further experiments were carried out by the researchers with gelatin hydrolysate. Processing gelatin by hydrochloric acid imitates the process taking place in the stomach. After gelatin hydrolysis was performed, the researchers educed and refined about 30 short peptides, also including glyprolines.

It has turned out that gelatin peptides reinforce resistance of the stomach mucous tunic to ethanol and stress action, decreasing the ulcer area by twice. If peptides are introduced to the animals with already developed ulcer, it will also close quicker. Therapeutic effect was revealed by peptides not only in case of intraperitoneal introduction but also in case of intragastric introduction, this method being even more effective.

The researchers point out that gelatin hydrolysate produces protective and medicinal effect comparable to the action of pure PGP peptide, which is currently known as the most active glyproline. In the researchers’ opinion, not only the above-mentioned glyprolines but also short peptides unknown so far participate in the antiulcer action of gelatin peptides. Therefore, to produce the most promising protective and medicinal antiulcer drugs, the researchers are planning to investigate the action of all substances that make part of gelatin hydrolysate.

Another long-standing rumor has been that

captive marine mammals have a difficult time remaining hydrated

due to eating dead, frozen fish.

Here is what Dolphin connection has to say about using gelatin for hydration:

Our animal training team partnered with their colleagues at SeaWorld Florida in Orlando to present a paper on the multiple uses of unflavored gelatin with marine mammals. That’s right – gelatin! The paper documented the ten-year history of our facilities working together to introduce something fun, new, and groundbreaking to the art of keeping of marine mammals. Gelatin use began at SeaWorld as an enjoyable and entertaining toy to be played with. It has enriched the lives of many whales and dolphins over the years. But then our veterinarians got to thinking…gelatin is 80% water and could be a great way to get fluids to a dolphin that might need them. So they asked, “Can you teach dolphins to eat unflavored gelatin?” and the trainers answered, “Yes!” Since then we have been utilizing gelatin in a variety of ways – just for fun, for additional fluids, and even for hiding vitamins or medications. The presentation of this paper created an incredible amount of discussion and interest among folks in the marine mammal training field and is already slated for publication in 2010. It makes us feel proud to contribute something of value to our occupation, especially when it has the potential to make a positive impact in the lives of whales and dolphins in zoos and aquariums around the world!

Seems the captive marine industry has found that feeding large amounts of gelatin keeps marine mammals around a bit longer through hydration and curing stomach ulcers….so next time you see a trainer feeding jello to a dolphin or an orca you’ll never know if it is just a “treat” or is it a form of medication and a sustainable source of life for them.

It has been stated that Tilikum was being fed ten gallons of gelatin daily (which is about 80 pounds)

to increase his hydration level while he was in isolation last year.

Tilikum: A year after trainer death

I also came across an interesting story regarding a little girl who was out viewing wild dolphins. During the tour the little girl stated the dolphins would love jello treats and when questioned why the family stated they had seen captive dolphins being feed jello. You can read the full story here.

This is really poor education being passed on as acceptable behavior for all dolphins. This little girl believed it would be a good thing for them, like a “treat”. She had no idea wild dolphins do not eat jello.

Informnauka (Informscience) Agency
3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2011 2:59 pm

    It would seem to me that if they weren’t being held captive, they probably wouldn’t get so stressed that they got ulcers in the first place..

    • Mario permalink
      June 29, 2011 3:17 am

      If the gelatin is made from plant (agar), the effect is as good as the gelatin from animal?


  1. Investigation Finds Hazardous Chemicals with Killer Whale Food Supply at SeaWorld « The Orca Project

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