Research published in August suggested dolphins may understand death, but that level of sensitivity appears to be lacking in the caretakers of a Swiss park.
A tropical paradise in the middle of Europe proved a nightmare for eight-year-old Shadow. In a move that would mystify anyone who cares about animals, Connyland amusement park in Lipperswil, Switzerland, hosted a techno rave that reverberated through the dolphin enclosure for two straight days.
Performing dolphins are one of the star attractions of the park. Animal activists had warned Connyland that the dolphins could be stressed by the noise. Connyland disagreed, and the Thurgau Veterinary Office accepted the park’s reassurances the party would not affect them.
Activists from two German animal-rights groups, ProWal and The Whale and Dolphin Protection Society, were on hand. They measured noise levels over 100 decibels outside the park. The dolphins were much nearer the party, and Andreas Morlok from ProWal said:
The sound levels which would have been heard by the dolphins is comparable with that of a pneumatic drill on top volume. Before the event we warned of these noise levels and the damage which could be done and called for the event to be called off.
Jürgen Ortmüller from the Whale and Dolphin Protection Society had this to say:
We have reasonable evidence to suggest that the extreme noise levels from the two day techno party severely affected the immune system of the dolphins. Dolphins are very sensitive creatures. We warned against a techno party taking place in this location for these very reasons.
A few days after the party, Shadow became agitated, stopped breathing and died. He was the seventh dolphin to die in three years at Connyland. The park is denying guilt, supported by their vet, who is quoted as saying:
I was there and the noise would not have affected the animals. You could hardly hear anything. Connyland takes the care of its animals very seriously and they are looked after very well.
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Photo from sandor via morgueFile