The death of third dolphin from a group that was taken from the wild in the Solomon Islands to be exported to Singapore for a marine park has added to the growing outrage over the issue.
Animal advocates had been fighting to stop the export of 27 dolphins that were taken from the Solomon Islands between 2008 and 2009 by Resorts World Sentosa for its Marine Life Park, but ultimately lost a legal battle against the resort and two government agencies to stop their transport. Singapore-based group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) filed a civil suit in the Philippines, and were granted a temporary block, but the order to stop their shipping was overturned.
Two of the dolphins previously died in Malaysia from bacterial infections. The third dolphin, a 10-year-old male named Wen Wen, died unexpectedly on the plane en route to Singapore.
“I was angry when I heard the news. The rest of the dolphins will know that one among them is dead and will be distressed. I cannot imagine what they must have gone through for the last four years,” said Louis Ng, Chief Executive of ACRES.
The online community took to the resort’s Facebook page to express outrage, but posts were deleted by the resort. After an outcry over that, the resort stopped censoring comments.
Now, the resort is facing contempt charges after a motion was filed by the Earth Island Institute Philippines, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society and CARE Welfare Philippines for moving the dolphins while the court was reconsidering an appeal from the groups to extend the temporary order to keep the dolphins from being transported.
“Our main case was to stop the transport of the dolphins, and they did that without informing us or the court. It’s now moot and academic,” said Mel Velasco, a lawyer for the groups. “The best way to move forward would be to hold them liable for Wen Wen’s death under Philippine laws or under the Animal Welfare Act.”
ACRES 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.
Acres will be holding a candlelight vigil and memorial service for Wen Wen on December 2.
For more information about ways to help, visit the Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins campaign.
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