years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Dolphins in captivity: Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore
Animals Asia is opposed to the keeping of marine mammals in captivity. In recent months, we have been aware of the plight of 27 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins captured from the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean to provide entertainment at Resorts World Sentosa “Marine Life Park” Singapore. Two of these dolphins have already died.
Animals Asia is pleased to join a campaign led by ACRES to oppose this development. The following information was issued to the media by ACRES in May 2011:
The dolphins are currently being trained in The Philippines and will be transported to RWS this year for an interactive dolphin spa programme.
Local and international outrage has been growing. United Parcel Service (UPS), which transported the first shipment of RWS dolphins from the Solomon Islands to The Philippines, said it would stop moving this kind of cargo, as the practice violated its environmental principles.
Chris Porter, who sold the wild-caught dolphins to RWS, called for RWS to "review its motivation for using these animals as a tourist draw". He was concerned that "RWS is using the animals primarily to make money while telling the public that its aim is to educate the public on marine conservation."
Mexican Senator Jorge Legorreta Ordorica (Chairman, Committee of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries) was so dismayed at the plans of RWS that he wrote to Singapore's National Development Minister about it. Senator Jorge wrote that Mexico's international reputation was dented as a result of its importing 28 Solomon Islands dolphins in 2003. At least 12 of the dolphins have since died.
"Mexico's experience with this single import led to our government imposing an outright ban on importation and exportation of live cetaceans for entertainment purposes and this ban is still in place," the Mexican senator said. He urged Singapore to consider Mexico's experience and “the disturbing mortality” of the animals when evaluating applications for the permits to import such dolphins.
The Singapore government has, however, decided to approve the import of the dolphins by RWS.
The dolphins have endured being removed from their homes in the Solomon Islands and stressful transportations. Some of the dolphins watched their family members die, were subjected to living in small, rusty enclosures and endured a year of training sessions. The only thing in store for all of them now is the final stressful transportation to Singapore to entertain RWS guests.
The worldwide marine mammal captivity industry threatens wild whale and dolphin populations and inflicts cruelty and suffering on thousands of individual animals. Confining whales and dolphins to captivity presents serious welfare issues. These are wide-ranging, social animals and captivity presents a lack of the social, visual and auditory stimuli of their natural environment, leading to a life of severe deprivation, lower life-expectancy and higher infant mortality than in the wild.
Dolphin tanks are small and cramped compared to the open ocean. The water is chemically-treated, meaning that no live fish or plants can be placed inside, thus leaving the tank bare and largely featureless, with no mental stimulation. These chemicals can potentially cause ulcers and skin lesions. Dolphins and whales are acoustic animals relying heavily on their hearing. Tanks used to house dolphins and whales are “concrete” environments with no variety, no texture, no substance and no depth. In this environment, the animals have no use for their greatest sense.
Live captures pose a huge welfare concern, as well as a conservation issue. The removal of individual dolphins from wild populations has serious implications for the survival of the targeted populations. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society reports that Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are usually captured using speedboats and a seine net. As the net closes, the dolphins usually begin to strike the net, increasing the likelihood of entanglement and drowning. The actual capture is extremely traumatic and violent:
Families are separated from each other;
Young females are often targeted for interaction programmes;
Many dolphins die during the capture process;
Studies are rarely conducted to ascertain what happens to those animals left behind;
Once removed from their natural environment, dolphins are transported to small enclosures that lack not only their families and social groups, but also the natural open ocean that they are used to;
Research shows that death rates increase six-fold during and immediately after capture.
Once confined, dolphin must adapt to an artificial diet, strange noises and the proximity of people and other captive animals. Many will suffer from the stress of confinement, which often results in aggression and other behavioural abnormalities, illness and decreased resistance to disease, leading to reduced life expectancy and higher infant mortality than in the wild.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, a "spike in mortality also occurs every time dolphins are transported. Each time they are confined and shipped from one place to another, it is as traumatic as if they were being newly captured from the wild. The experience of being removed from water and restrained is apparently so stressful to dolphins that they never find it routine."
No captive facility can provide adequate exercise for dolphins, which are capable of swimming up to 60 miles a day, can attain speeds up to 22 mph, and can dive to over a thousand feet, and can live for 40-60 years depending upon the species.
These dolphins face a bleak future. It is up to all of us animal lovers to get Resorts World to rethink their decision to keep them in captivity.
What you can do
We urge you to do all that you can to help these dolphins. Please write a polite letter to Resorts World, Singapore and ask for these dolphins to be released back into the wild, and to the Minister for National Development, Singapore to ask that the government does not allow RWS to import these dolphins into Singapore.
Click here for more information.
Thank you for your support.
Animals Asia and the Asia for Animals Coalition have written to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to express our concern with regards the capture of these 27 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins from the Solomon Islands to provide entertainment at the Resorts World Sentosa Marine Life Park. Please see our on-going correspondence with RWS below.