Activists Fight to Return Captured Dolphins to the Wild
An animal rights group is working to keep 25 dolphins that were taken from the wild from being exported to a Marine Life Park at the Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore where they believe the dolphins will be doomed to a life of misery.
Resorts World Sentosa acquired 27 dolphins from the Solomon Islands between 2008 and 2009, even though they were advised against it. The dolphins, who now number 25 after two died from bacterial infections, are currently in the Philippines for training and are expected to be moved to the resort next year.
Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the plight of captive whales and dolphins and drawing the conclusion that abducting these animals from their close-knit family groups in the wild, confining them to small chemical-laden tanks, forcing them to perform ridiculous tricks to earn their food and significantly shortening their lives is cruelty and not educational or entertaining.
A legal battle ensued last week over moving them after the Singapore-based group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) filed a civil suit in the Philippines. Their transportation was temporarily blocked after the court decided that shipping them would cause them harm, but the temporary protection order has been lifted.
Now, ACRES wants the judge who lifted the order to step down and is campaigning to send the dolphins back to their home in the Solomon Islands. The group has partnered with the Earth Island Institute and has set up a site about them at www.saddestdolphins.com and released a video about the depletion of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.
“We hope that through the campaign video, people will see the truth behind these captures and speak up against it through our new online petition protest letters. RWS is supposed to be ‘committed to marine conservation’. They should have performed due diligence before they acquired the dolphins and they clearly should have followed the recommendations of the IUCN and ACRES. We hope that RWS will now make the right decision and work with ACRES and Earth Island Institute to rehabilitate and release these dolphins back into the wild” said Mr. Louis Ng, Chief Executive of ACRES in a statement.
The group believes that the capture of dolphins from the Solomon Islands was unsustainable and in violation of the the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which stated that the import and export of dolphins from the area will threaten their survival and should not happen. The Earth Island Institute argued in court that the ban on hunting dolphins in the Solomon Islands demonstrated that the population there was under threat, according to the AFP.
The group filed a motion for reconsideration this week in the Philippines and was joined by the Earth Island Institute and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society.
The resort, on the other hand, which is expected to be the world’s largest oceanarium with more than 100,000 animals from 800 marine species, argues that it has not violated any international treaties on the trade of endangered animals by acquiring the dolphins and is reportedly still looking forward to their arrival.
“We have already spent considerable time educating ACRES on facts about our facility, animal care and intent, and we want to move on to the matters in hand … We urge ACRES to focus on areas where it can constructively contribute to marine conservation, rather than engage in online antics to encourage netizens to harass or heckle us and our Facebook fans,” said a spokesman for the resort.
Hopefully, as awareness and outrage grows, it will become unprofitable for marine parks to continue with the practice of taking wild animals and confining them for amusement and more countries will join the list of those who have already banned the practice.
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