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As you might expect, dolphin-assisted therapy is quiteexpensive. The care, feeding, and training of creatures aslarge and complex as the dolphin require special facilitiesand skilled caretakers. Besides that, some people believethat using dolphins in this way exploits them, and there aresome indications that captive dolphins do suffer from arange of stress-induced physical and mental symptoms. That’s why some scientists are hard at work creating a“virtual dolphin experience,” which they hope will capturethe joy and freedom of swimming with the animals usingvideo and computer technologies, eliminating any need forreal, live dolphins. David Cole, a computer scientist livingin the Los Angeles area, heads a group of computer wiz-ards, doctors, and naturalists called the AquaThoughtFoundation. He is one of several people currently workingto develop computer-simulated dolphin experiences. Cole’sprototype, called Cyberfin, is already up and running. It isa “virtual reality interaction” that simulates swimming withdolphins. Once it’s perfected, Cole believes the system willbe a boon both to humans who can’t afford a live dolphinswim and to the wild dolphins that will be spared a life ofcaptivity for the purposes of human therapy and recreation.

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