Danang dolphinarium battle hits headlines in Vietnam

11 November 2015

Animals Asia’s suggestion to Danang city leaders that plans to build a dolphinarium would be suicidal for the city have hit Vietnamese newspaper front pages.

When news broke recently of a Russian company’s wish to create a dolphinarium to house wild-caught dolphins, Animals Asia voiced its view that the planned attraction would not only be harmful to the animals – it could cause irreparable damage to Danang’s reputation. 

The city prides itself on being modern and progressive, leading by example with rapid expansion, environmental responsibility, and responsiveness to its people on a wide range of issues.


But it was felt that if local authorities were to approve the theme park, despite an international backlash against keeping marine mammals and using them for entertainment, it could harm the very things Danang wants to encourage more of - tourism and investment.

One media outlet, Thanh Nien News, ran the story with the headline: “Animal activists fight Russian firm's plan for 'cruel' dolphin park in Danang”.

Their story said:

“Danang has suddenly found itself in hot water after announcing a controversial plan to build a park with captive dolphins and other sea creatures.” 

Meanwhile news website VN Express said: 

“As soon as the information about plans for a marine park and marine mammals was released, social networking forums filled up with mixed opinions about the project. Some argue that the park would give Danang more diversity as a destination and attract more tourists, while many suggested the city should not consider the proposals when moving towards building a modern city environment.”


Readers were quick to respond to the news, expressing varying opinions both for and against the plans.

One reader said:

“As a Danang citizen, I think there is no place for entertainment by ‘torturing’ animals in this progressive society. This is always the top city in terms of environment protection and humanity. We did refuse other projects that are bigger than this one so please consider carefully about this if we intend to promote tourism because I don’t think tourists from civilised countries are interested in this kind of entertainment. It’s also wrong in terms of education - If I take my kid there and he asks ‘Why are the dolphins living here instead of the ocean?’ - I won’t know how to answer those questions!”

Another put their view even more succinctly, posting this simple message: 

“I love watching sea animals but would rather see them in nature through TV than see them living a captive life in person.”


However, additional comments showed there is still a fight to be had to convince people of the likely negative effects of building a dolphin theme park. One reader expressed their belief that dolphins would be treated well and cared for if kept captive in a dolphinarium:

“Aquariums are a good place for dolphins. I don’t think that they will be hit or hurt to force them to perform. You need to know that for a successful dolphin performance, trainers have to take very good care of them, and feed them well. This project would not only educate children on loving animals but also attract tourists. I totally support this!” 

Dave Neale Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director said:

“This is certainly not the first time in Vietnam that we have been gratified by being able to play a part in such a public debate. There are concerns here that this is a misstep by an otherwise high performing city. Around the world we are seeing increased opposition to performing animals. Even if you disregard the cruelty, no one can argue this is the future, when elsewhere people are turning away from this kind of facility. If people do not understand why such a place is wrong then we hope this debate is adding to their knowledge. For the issues to be tackled so publicly is vital to assist in advancing animal welfare understanding.”

Thank you to Sheila Dee for use of her Danang pictures.