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WSPA Report Reveals Plight of Captive Dolphins in Holiday Hotspots
Throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic, holiday meccas for North American and European tourists, a bleak picture of life for the dolphins in captivity has been uncovered by a new WSPA report. The report describes in detail the state of the two countries’ captive dolphin facilities which are largely found in or near resorts frequented by international tourists. The report also documents the acts of cruelty suffered by captive dolphins as well as the consequences of this cruelty to the animals’ welfare. The report details the generic layout of captive dolphin facilities, in existence in Mexico since 1970 and in the Dominican Republic since 1995.

Petition to end a captive dolphin program on the Las Vegas strip
At least three animals were reportedly stillborn or died shortly after birth; others succumbed to illnesses such as respiratory infections and stomach tears. The two groups immediately filed a joint complaint requesting that The Mirage’s permit request be denied based on their dismal animal care record and transport concerns, among other issues. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, permits are not required for animals transferred between domestic facilities – only 15 days notice should be provided to NMFS before the transfer takes place. These additional animals indicate that the Mirage still intends to increase the number of dolphins held at their facility, only this time through domestic transfer and breeding.

Dying to entertain you
Sharky – a 30-year-old female bottlenose – collided mid-air with another dolphin while leaping out of the water during a show. In what WSPA considers to be a sad reminder of the unacceptable cruelty inherent to keeping dolphins in captivity, Sharky suffered head injuries and died soon afterwards. Scientists estimate that for every wild dolphin taken captive, another is injured or killed in the process. We do know that most dolphins in US facilities are now bred in captivity and that it has been around 20 years since US facilities have participated in capture of dolphins from the wild.

Orca attacks SeaWorld trainer
This latest news (see BBC article for more) that a captive SeaWorld killer whale named Tilikum, attacked and killed its trainer is nothing new as this is the third time ‘Tilly’ has killed. This repeated aggressive behaviour is doubly concerning as it reveals the serious welfare risk to both people and animals for the sake of entertainment. “Killer whales are highly intelligent mammals that are taught to perform against their will by their human trainers. There should not be a situation where a wild animal and a human interact in this way. Aquariums like this are built to attract the visiting public and make profits; they never put the needs of the animals first.

WSPA 2009 Achievements for Animal Welfare
From bringing essential aid to thousands of animal victims of multiple disasters in Asia Pacific, to pioneering the first-ever release of captive bonobos into the wild in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to making a difference for farm animals in Brazil, we’ve accomplished so much for animals this year. As the world’s largest alliance of animal welfare organizations, WSPA works with our partners where the animal welfare need is greatest. We accomplished many key achievements for animal welfare with our partners in 2009. Hundreds of people in the Brazilian agriculture industry were trained in humane animal handling, having the potential to improve conditions for millions of farm animals.

Proposed dolphin scheme in Thailand thwarted
WSPA is pleased to report that plans to build the facility have been abandoned. Dolphin-assisted therapy is a controversial idea, with little research to support its effectiveness. Dr. Kongsted claimed that the facility would use dolphins that stranded themselves on local beaches as well as importing captive-bred dolphins from the United States. WSPA's objections, coupled with funding difficulties, led Kongsted and the PMBC to announce that they would not pursue their plans for a captive dolphin facility any further. You can help WSPA protect dolphins by letting us know whenever you hear about a new captive dolphin facility being proposed in your community.

Report exposes suffering at whale and dolphin attractions
The fourth edition of the report reflects the changing nature of the captive display industry. The demand from the tourism industry for marine mammal attractions at these facilities has resulted in increasing live animal captures from wild populations, particularly in Asia, the Caribbean, Russia and the South Pacific. However, captive animals are rarely considered ideal research subjects when attempting to answer questions related to wild populations and conservation. Marine mammals are some of the most charismatic creatures on the planet and it is certainly understandable that people are drawn to them. WSPA and the HSUS believe there can be no justification for subjecting these animals to traumatic captures and an impoverished quality of life.

September brings hope and despair for dolphins
Under New Zealand’s current Marine Mammals Protection Act (NZ MMPA), it is illegal to take (i.e., harm, harass, injure and attract) marine mammals in New Zealand waters. However, holding a marine mammal in captivity, taking a marine mammal from the wild, and importing or exporting marine mammals is allowed with a permit approved by the Minister of Conservation. Minister Wilkinson also stated that prohibiting the holding of dolphins for public display would be considered as part of a wider review and revision of the NZ MMPA occurring in the future. Dolphins are poorly adapted to life in captivity due to their wide-ranging and social nature.

Japanese dolphin slaughter protests on September 25, 2007
This year on September 25th, WSPA and dolphin advocates around the world will stage an international day of protest against Japan's bloody drive fisheries. WSPA urges you to show your support for dolphins by participating in an event near you. Once the dolphins are beached in shallow waters, the fishermen slaughter them with knives and spears. Recently three Taiji Town Councilmen started speaking out about mercury contaminated dolphin meat that is being served to children in school lunches. Many fishermen admit that they would not continue the cruelty if it were not for the high prices offered for live wild dolphins.

Japan Dolphin Day: a spotlight on large-scale suffering
Japan Dolphin Day aims to draw attention to the secretive and violent hunts that take place in Japanese waters and convince authorities that a change in policy is urgently needed. It is this demand for live dolphins – particularly young animals – that provides the main economic incentive for these cruel drive hunts to continue. Those animals that survive capture are subjected to a lifetime of confinement, unable to express normal behaviors or interact socially and subject to diseases and illnesses brought on by their unnatural surroundings. The incentives for these hunts vary, but all involve suffering for the animals involved. Make sure you tell your tour guide or the local tourist office why you will not support facilities holding captive dolphins.

Croatia rejects dolphinarium
WSPA applauds our member society Animal Friends Croatia for a successful lobbying campaign to prevent the opening of a dolphinarium in the Croatian town of Vodnjan. When Animal Friends Croatia learned of the plans, they applied for assistance from WSPA to bolster their intensive campaign to stop the project. Their educational lobbying approach worked, and an announcement from the mayor on May 10th stated that the dolphinarium would no longer be included in the planned aqua-park. WSPA urges supporters to write a polite email to President Leonel Fernandez Reyna of the Dominican Republic requesting that he use his authority to deny the import of 12 dolphins captured during Japans' bloody drive fisheries.

Dolphin mortality high at Las Vegas exhibit
Eleven of sixteen dolphins housed in The Mirage's Dolphin Habitat have died since the facility opened in 1990, according to federal records and interviews with resort officials. The records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal show most of the dolphin deaths were attributed to natural causes, and that casino officials have taken steps to change the way the dolphins are cared for and the habitat is maintained. Captive dolphins die regularly at relatively young ages ... The people (at The Mirage) may be well-meaning and the facility may be well-run, but these type of captive environments can't reproduce conditions in the wild.''

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