Singaporeans & International Community Speak Up For The “Sentosa 25” Dolphins
July 1, 2011
Starting today, a three-day long roadshow in Singapore hopes to highlight the tale of 25 bottlenose dolphins that are destined for a casino resort.
AsianScientist (Jul. 1, 2011) – Starting today, a three-day long roadshow will take place in Singapore to highlight the tale of 25 bottlenose dolphins that were caught for a casino resort’s dolphin exhibit.
Led by Mr. Louis Ng, founder of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), the “Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins” roadshow will educate the public about the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) wild-caught dolphins, with the hope that Singaporeans will speak up for the captive mammals.
ACRES’ latest move clearly has precedence. Two years ago, the resort cancelled a whale shark exhibit due to public outcry.
The dolphin allies
Efforts to free the dolphins have received support from a number of prominent individuals and organizations. In a change of heart, Chris Porter, the dolphin-trader who sold the wild-caught dolphins to the resort, is now calling for RWS to “review its motivation for using these animals as a tourist draw.” Some redemption may exist for Porter for his efforts to engage the casino resort that originally paid him to catch the dolphins.
“RWS is using the animals primarily to make money while telling the public that its aim is to educate the public on marine conservation,” Porter writes.
International shipping company United Parcel Service, better known by its acronym UPS, was paid to transport the dolphins from the Solomon Islands to the Philippines. In a Singapore Straits Times article on Jan 12, 2009, the company said it would stop moving this kind of cargo as the practice violated its environmental principles.
Ric O’Barry, dolphin activist and star of The Cove, sent a letter on May 28, 2011 to the resort. In a more recent update on his website dated Jun 23, he urged stronger action from Singaporeans, and listed the names and numbers of people to call, including organizations that were affiliated to the resort.
Dame Jane Goodall, DBE, a well-respected chimpanzee expert and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, has also made her thoughts known on this matter. In a YouTube video posted two days earlier on Jun 28, 2011, she called the capturing of young dolphins for captivity both “horrendous and cruel.”
“Dolphins are so amazingly intelligent. They’re probably as intelligent as the chimpanzees that I spent 50 years learning about, and they belong to the free oceans. They swim fast, they leap, and they clearly express joy,” Goodall said.
Across the Pacific Ocean, Mexican Senator Jorge Ordorica (Chairman, Committee of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries), wrote on 12 April, 2008 to then-Singapore National Development Minister, Mr. Mah Bow Tan, urging Singapore to consider against approving the permits to import such dolphins. Senator Ordorica cited Mexico’s own example in 2003 where it imported 28 Solomon Island dolphins; 12 dolphins died in less than five years.
June 28: RWS responds
Saying that it had been grossly misrepresented, a RWS representative wrote to ACRES that the resort would exercise utmost care for all the marine animals that will be housed at the Marine Life Park (MLP).
In response to the Mexican senator’s letter, it said that its “broad-ranging program for the dolphins includes research, education and breeding,” in partnership with The Via Delphi Institute for Research on Marine Mammals, a Mexico-based dolphin breeding facility.
”We share a common goal with organizations that put environmental protection and marine conservation at the top of their agenda whilst, at the same time, acknowledging that there are many different ways to reach the same goal,” the resort said.
The resort also maintained that the dolphins will be used for a scientific purpose.
“We believe that to avert species crises, controlled wildlife collections can occur for quality zoological facilities to increase our understanding of the species and for breeding purposes. This philosophy is in line with CITES, which regulates the trade of animals to protect wildlife species from extinction.”
Finally, the resort promised that the bottlenose dolphins will be kept “in a world-class facility free from pollution and predators.” But two dolphins have already died from bacterial infections at their temporary Subic Bay enclosure as they awaited the construction of their dolphin tanks at the Marine Life Park.
An online petition at change.org has received 92,000 signatures at the time of this publication.
Source: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.