Captive Dolphin Will Go Free
If you are against dolphins being held in captivity for human entertainment you will be glad to know a dolphin in Korea is being released back into the wild from a tank where it has been kept as part of a show. A male dolphin named Jedol will be taken to the seas off Jeju Island, where it was captured, from the Seoul Zoo. Protests from animal rights organizations caused the zoo to reevaluate its dolphin program and decide to return Jedol.
“It is not only a matter of one dolphin going home, but a matter of the relationship between animals and humans, between nature and humans,” Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. (Source: The Korea Times)
Jedol is 13 years old and is a Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, which is an endangered species. The zoo got him from a marine leisure park, but at the time they did not know he had been purchased illegally. He will be trained to live in the wild again before release, so he can transition from living in a controlled, confined artificial habitat to a natural one, where he must hunt and find food for himself.
Another consideration is how much he has imprinted on humans, and if he will choose to live apart from them. It wouldn’t be safe for him to spend too much time hanging around boats and marinas where he could get run over and injured or killed. Also many dolphins and other marine mammals are injured by entanglements with fishing gear and plastic pollution. (A wild New Zealand dolphin that saved whales died from human-related injuries.)
Zoo officials have said they don’t know if the Jedol relocation will be a success. If it isn’t, they will return him to the zoo. The fact they recognize why it is important to try is a step in the right direction. His release will not happen immediately, but it could be an example to all facilities holding dolphins in captivity it is possible.
Image Credit: Ark