European Citizens Urged to Say No to Dolphinariums
Wädenswil, 04.07.20094th July 2009 - To mark World Day for Captive Dolphins, an alliance of European animal welfare groups today launched a campaign to put an end to the suffering of dolphins caused by captivity across Europe.
The ten European and international animal welfare and conservation groups that make up the European Alliance to End Dolphins in Captivity (EAEDC), are working to raise awareness about the plight of dolphins in captivity. The EAEDC is calling on the EU to implement a ban on the construction of new dolphinariums, plus a ban on the trade of whales and dolphins into the EU, in EU applicant countries and Switzerland.
The alliance is comprised of: The Born Free Foundation, Dolphin Days, European network to END the keeping of wild animals in CAPtivity (ENDCAP), KRAX - Kids Schützen Tiere, OceanCare, Pro Wildlife, Robin Des Bois, Underwater Research Society - Marine Mammal Research Group ( SAD-DEMAG), Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
EAEDC will be collecting petition signatures from European citizens which they plan to deliver to the EU at Council, Parliamentary and Commission level in February 2010. (Footnote 1)
Sigrid Lüber from OceanCare says “Dolphins are amongst the most intelligent and captivating of all animals - they are not clowns to be used for human entertainment. We are certain that if people were more aware of the grim reality behind a captive dolphin’s smile they would want to help us achieve this ban.”
Scientific evidence shows that marine mammals such as dolphins and whales suffer significantly in captive environments which fail to provide for their behavioural or physiological needs. Compared to their natural ocean home, tanks are small and cramped, bare and featureless, causing stress, aggression, reduced life expectancy and breeding problems. Chemically treated water and UV exposure frequently causes ulcers and skin lesions.
Joanna Toole from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) says ‘A lifetime in a concrete tank, swimming in circles can never be an acceptable substitute for the vast ocean. The complex needs of dolphins make them inherently unsuited to captivity. Members of the alliance hope that if the EU can commit to preventing new facilities being built, we will get one step closer to seeing these underwater prisons disappear for good.’
Furthermore, in order to supply dolphinariums around the world, the global trade in dolphins is rife and, in some parts of the world, wild dolphins are still captured to meet this demand. These animals are wrenched from the ocean and from their social groups in traumatic and often brutal captures which see many animals dying in the process. Studies have shown that the death rates of bottlenose dolphins increase six-fold during and immediately after capture from the wild.
Unfortunately, despite the significant problems associated with keeping dolphins in captivity, close to 60 dolphinariums currently exist across Europe. There are 34 such facilities within the EU and more are being built every year.
Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation pointed to the UK as “In the 1970’s there used to be dozens of captive dolphin shows in the UK. Today there are none. The release of three of the last dolphins into the wild by the Into The Blue campaign in 1991 lead directly to the UK becoming a ‘dolphin-free zone’. It can be done and the Alliance hopes that the rest of Europe will follow suit.”
These facilities are largely funded from the pockets of holiday makers, who are unaware of the inherent cruelty of such attractions. As the European holiday season gets underway the EAEDC is urging tourists not to visit captive dolphin attractions on their trips abroad.
Cathy Williamson from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) says “Holiday makers need to be aware that if they visit a dolphinarium this summer their money will be funding the next generation of dolphin misery. Through responsible whale and dolphin watching tours, people can see these animals in their natural environment where they belong.”