DFE calls for phase-out to end cetacean captivity in Europe

Help us end this! Dolphins at Nuremberg, Germany

Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE) recently approached all MEPs in the European Parliament urging them to include a phase-out of the keeping of dolphins and whales in captivity for public entertainment in the run-up to the European Elections.

With the European Elections due to take place in May this year, we are urging MEPs to include this in their party manifesto and further support our campaign by posting a #DolphinariaFreeEurope selfie on their social media platforms.

Do you want to achieve a Europe without captive dolphins and whales?

Become part of our Dolphinaria-Free Europe campaign today!

  • Stand up for dolphins and whales by taking a selfie with our #DolphinariaFreeEurope board and share on social media (#DolphinariaFreeEurope  #cetaceancaptivity  #Blackfish  #dolphins  #whales)
  • Encourage others to take a selfie and pledge their support.
  • Contact your own MEP (details here) asking them to support our campaign to end dolphin and whale captivity in Europe
  • Spread the word – avoid visiting zoos and aquaria holding dolphins and whales in captivity

French translation of the above article is available here

Reflecting on the death of a trainer

image courtesy Marine Connection


In this short documentary, journalist Michael Altenhenne portrays a mother’s search for truth and her struggle against orcas being held in captivity.

Featuring Mercedes Hernandez, mother of 29-year-old Alexis Martinez Hernandez, the trainer who was killed by Keto the orca during show rehearsal at Tenerife’s Loro Parque on Xmas Eve 2009, the documentary highlights her loss and why she believes these shows must now end.

The documentary can be viewed here






Dolphin facility planned for Budapest – we need your help

Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE) was recently alerted to news that the owner of Tropicarium Aquarium in Budapest plans to display dolphins at the facility.

Since 1992, Hungary has had in place a ban on the importation of wild-caught dolphins for display purposes following the illegal importation of five bottlenose dolphins into the country in that year, one of which died within the first week. The remaining dolphins were then returned to Ukraine and the dolphinarium closed.  Hungary has not displayed captive dolphins since that time, however, the owner of Tropicarium now wishes to change this, and has confirmed the marine mammals they plan to display will be obtained from captive facilities within Europe.

DFE coalition is determined to stop this and has contacted Dr István Nagy, Minister of Agriculture for Hungary requesting that any application to import dolphins for public display at Tropicarium be denied.

Please join DFE in opposing these plans and support our campaign by emailing the Minister, voicing your concern to:  miniszter@fm.gov.hu


Timeline on Morgan’s pregnancy raises many questions

for DFE site_timelineMorgan

Since SeaWorld announced the end of their orca breeding programme, it was assumed that the orcas at Loro Parque, who were at that time included in SeaWorld’s collection, would be subject to the same conditions.

Since the announcement of Morgan’s pregnancy, the question of just when she became pregnant and whether both Loro Parque and SeaWorld had been aware of this when Morgan was still under SeaWorld’s ownership, have continued to be raised.

Free Morgan Foundation, members of Dolphinaria-Free Europe, have been advocates for Morgan since her initial capture, now report that her pregnancy didn’t happen in a vacuum. It wasn’t an “accident” as Javier Almunia (the head of Loro Parque Foundation and in charge of the orca) has claimed. Furthermore, the male orca who impregnated Morgan, belonged at the time to SeaWorld, who had a company-wide ban on orca breeding.

Further details and the timeline of relevant dates can be found here on the Free Morgan website

Attica Park, Greece receives €44,350 fine for law infringement

Following ongoing complaints and two years of campaigning against the dolphin shows at Attica Zoo Park in Greece, which flaunts laws banning animals being used to perform in shows, environmental inspectors have found the Park in violation of Greek law with regards to dolphin performances at the park.

The following infringements were noted:

  • The facility had been operating without a licence for a period of 4 years from 18-3-2013 to 30-7-2017
    The facility did submit a license (2448/31-07-2017) however this was issued after the inspection had been undertaken by the Dept of Rural and Veterinary Policy of the     Prefecture of Attica on 3.11.2016.
  • Infringements of Greek law N.4039/12 Article 13
    This states that “keeping animals in parks is allowed under the condition that no shows take place with the participation of animals”. On the date of the inspection 3-11-2016, it was confirmed that at 11:00 a dolphin show took place in a restricted access area,  in front of zoo visitors for 20 minutes. A fee of €3 per person was charged by those in charge of the facility.  This was clearly in breach of the above law.

Article 12 and 13 of Law N.4039/2012 have further been revised (article            46, paragraphs 8 and 9 N.4235/2014 to read: “Article 12: Prohibition in the use of any animal in any type of show and similar activities.

1 – It is forbidden to keep any kind of animal in a circus or variety show, if the animals are used in any way and for any reason in their programme, perform in shows or march or appear before an audience.

2 – It is forbidden to use any kind of animal in entertainment games companies, car shows, music festivals, folk festivals or other art or entertainment events if the animals are used in any way and for any reason in their programmes.

2a – Without prejudice to the provisions of article 7, it is forbidden to use animals in an outdoor public display with the purpose of economic profit.

Attica Park claimed ‘biased misinterpretation of the law’ and ‘effort to create negative impressions’ on the park of the Environmental Inspectors, stating that this negates the violations.  However, their claims cannot be accepted as the Inspectors noted down in their report what they saw during their inspection and it was on this their report was based.

Furthermore, the facility owners claimed that they did have educational signs within the restricted activity area.  However ,the show viewed by Inspectors on the day took place at a predetermined time in front of a paying audience where the dolphins were forced to perform a set of pre-determined exercises – not as a result of a natural or spontaneous behaviour but to command for food reward by trainers who also encouraged applause from the audience.

The company also claim that since January 2017 no fee has been charged for the dolphin show, rather a fee to enter the Zoo as a whole; this statement shows the for-profit character of this activity and again does not negate the violation to the prohibition of keeping animals for shows (articles 12 and 13 or N.4039/2012.

The Dolphinaria-Free Europe coalition will continue to support all attempts to have the Greek authorities now impose the existing law banning performances with animals, which clearly Attica Park has been found in violation of,  and are calling for the park to be closed.


Please support the campaign by emailing the following asking them to impose the law with immediate effect:

Mr Giorgos Stathakis
Minister of the Environment

Mr Stavros Arachovitis
Minister of Rural Development & Food



Where is Martinha? Rescued dolphin kept in tiny swimming pool for a decade

Martinha in her tiny pool

Dolphinaria-Free Europe is supporting the call to find Martinha, a rescued female common dolphin who has spent the past decade confined to a tiny backyard concrete ‘swimming pool’  after stranding on the coast of Portugal in 2007.

Martinha’s rescuers allowed her to languish in a waist-deep pool for 10 years, despite continued assurances that she would be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.  In February 2017, the Martinha coalition received a letter from the Portuguese Government agency ICNF, on behalf of CRAM-Q stating that Martinha would not be released because of ‘chronic’ and ‘cyclic’ medical conditions (liver and digestive issues) but they were, however, looking for “alternative rehabilitation centres that could receive and take care of Martinha. Despite requests, there has been no evidence or confirmation of a move.

Please help find Martinha – further information can be at www.martinha.org