Following the death of a young dolphin named Aïcko in November 2016 at Planete Sauvage in France, our member colleagues at One Voice contested claims by the park that the dolphin had died of an unidentified illness.
Due to continued attacks on both Aïcko and his brother Galéo, One Voice had already filed a complaint against the park and as such, were suspicious of the explanation given for the cause of death. Following the court hearing, the judge ordered an expert report to be undertaken. This has since been conducted, however, One Voice are of the opinion that it appears to be lenient towards the park, especially as the autopsy found that Aïcko’s larynx was dislocated; which can be a consequence of force-feeding. In view of this, they are now in the process of launching a challenge against the findings.
Part of DFE’s remit is to support the establishment of seaside sanctuaries for ex-captive cetaceans. DFE Member Whale and Dolphin Conservation, has recently announced the global launch of a beluga sanctuary in Iceland. Created in partnership with WDC, the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary will be the first of its kind to be created for whales and dolphins. It is hoped the project will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales and dolphins into natural environments in the future, and one day bring an end to whale and dolphin entertainment shows.
The sanctuary will become the new home to its first residents, two female beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White in Spring 2019.
On June 9, a female calf was born to Ariel at Kolmarden Zoo and has been named Alana. The calf’s father, David was born in Mundomar in 2004 and transferred to Selwo Marina in 2008, then to Kolmarden in 2016. In January this year at Kolmarden, a male calf was born to Fenah, which was also sired by David. This latest birth brings the total number of dolphins held at Kolmarden to 10.
On a historical note, following the closure of Flamingoland in Yorkshire, the last UK facility to house captive dolphins, the 3 dolphins from that facility (Lotty, Betty & Sharky) originally captured from the Atlantic around Florida in 1983/1984, were transferred to Kolmarden on March 8, 1993 before being moved to other facilities in France and Italy.
Yesterday at the European Parliament, Dr Ingrid Visser and Matthew Spiegl, legal counsel for the Free Morgan Foundation who are members of Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE), presented their petition to the EU Parliament Petitions Committee (PETI).
They requested that the Commission investigate the issue of Annex A (wild born animals) CITES permits, which of course is relevant to Morgan, the orca who is currently at Loro Parque, Tenerife. DFE has added its support by submitting a letter to the Chair and Vice Chairs of the PETI Committee requesting that the petition remain open.
In the latest footage released by Loro Parque showing the developing calf, the park recognises they face quite a challenge with the upcoming birth due to Morgan’s deafness and this type of situation never occurring before with a captive orca (albeit it Morgan was born in the wild). Loro Parque has gone to great lengths to emphasise their experience with orca births, yet admit they have no idea how a deaf mother will care for her new-born calf. Given their lack of experience with this particular situation, Loro Parque should never have allowed Morgan to become pregnant.
The scientific paper “Looking forward to interacting with their caretakers: dolphins’ anticipatory behaviour indicates motivation to participate in specific events” was recently published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science. The media coverage of this paper was intense and generated such headlines as: “We finally figured out whether or not [captive] dolphins are happy,” “Scientists attempt to measure dolphin ‘happiness’ for the first time,” “Dolphin ‘happiness’ is measured for the first time,” and “Happiness is human for dolphins.” Dolphinaria-Free Europe considers this interpretation of the study’s results to be misguided and a misrepresentation of the findings of the study and has produced our Statement in response.