Changes to animal welfare attitudes in Spain

Spain’s Social Rights Minister, Ione Belarra announced during a recent press conference that as part of proposed changes to animal welfare laws, the country will be converting zoos and dolphinariums into recovery centres for native species. As Spain holds beluga whales which are non-native, how this will impact the public display industry is as yet unclear.

Further details and video via member Marine Connection

New campaign highlights concerns for orca Moana at Marineland, Antibes

Image: courtesy One Voice

Member organisation One Voice has launched a campaign to highlight the deteriorating conditions in which the orcas at Marineland, Antibes are living in, and to also voice their concern over the current condition of 10-year-old Moana.

Moana, and the other orcas at the facility – Inouk (his uncle), Wikie (his mother) and Keijo (his brother), show stress-related, repetitive behaviours and now Moana has sub-dermal wounds which are very concerning. One Voice has filed a cruelty complaint against Marineland; for the deterioration in water quality and conditions in which the orcas are housed, requesting an independent investigation be carried out and for a precautionary foreclosure which would bring about an end to orca shows at the facility and prohibit Moana and the others from being transported to any other facility.

Read the One Voice article here
Recent video footage of Moana 

Travel company Expedia to cease promoting dolphin and whale ‘experiences’

Dolphinaria-Free Europe celebrates the news that travel company Expedia has announced that, having adjusted their animal welfare policy with regards to attractions/activities they offer, they will no longer offer activities featuring captive dolphins and other cetaceans. They plan to implement the policy by early 2022 and are giving providers 30 days to comply with the updated policy or face removal from their site.

Expedia has said they will however feature seaside sanctuaries when established, which offer captive cetaceans a permanent living environment provided they are accredited and do not feature either interactions or performances. This follows the decision by Virgin Holidays in 2019 to cease selling tickets to attractions and experiences featuring cetaceans and we sincerely hope that this move will encourage other tour/travel companies, such as TUI, to follow suit. We would like to send our congratulations to member organisation World Animal Protection and others who have campaigned for several years to achieve this positive result for captive cetaceans, this is indeed a huge step forward as Expedia promotes several European facilities holding cetaceans including l’Oceanografic, Valencia and Loro Parque, Tenerife.

Asterix dolphins to remain at Kolmarden

image courtesy Djurrättsalliansen

In February this year when Parc Asterix, France closed their dolphin show, two of the dolphins were transferred to Kolmarden Wildlife Park in Sweden. At the time, it was thought that one of the dolphins would be moved from Kolmarden to Germany at a later date, however, it is now confirmed that both dolphins will remain at the Swedish facility.

Kolmarden says this decision has been made as the dolphins have bonded well with the others, and they now wish to keep the ‘pod’ intact. However, by cancelling the transfer of one of the males from France, could it be that the park is hoping this may result in a successful pregnancy, or is it simply to avoid any potential bad publicity for moving an older dolphin. In the meantime, DFE will continue to support member organisation Djurrättsalliansen in its attempt to address this ongoing situation.

Harderwijk Dolfinarium slogan in violation of the Dutch Advertising Code

A Dutch Advertising Code Committee has said that the facility’s slogan ‘Discover, Experience and Protect’ gives the impression that visitors are directly contributing to the protection of animals by buying a ticket and that is not true. Harderwijk is appealing against the committee’s opinion, disagreeing that the word “protect” refers to the educational function, which would make visitors enthusiastic about nature conservation.

“Harderwijk is seriously considering sending some of their dolphins to facilities in China, something that we as a coalition are strongly speaking out against”, comments DFE Chair Margaux Dodds. “To even consider sending animals apparently ‘in their care’ to a country where welfare standards in dolphinaria are inadequate at best, or even non-existent does not show any consideration for the protection of their animals. As to the question of the slogan, for the facility to claim the ‘protect’ aspect is educational and makes visitors enthusiastic about nature conservation, it will be very interesting to see what information will be provided by Harderwijk as part of their appeal to support this particular claim.”

Ex Situ Conservation Cannot Save Endangered Cetaceans

image courtesy Marine Connection

In 2018 a workshop was held at a German zoo to discuss ex situ options for cetacean conservation. This led to the creation of the Integrated Conservation Planning for Cetaceans (ICPC), a subgroup of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The ICPC proposes to integrate ex situ measures with in situ efforts in small cetacean conservation plans, including holding individual animals in semi-natural reserves and artificial enclosures and breeding them in captivity. Although it is of course vital to protect wild cetaceans from threats such as habitat loss and fishing gear entanglement, Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE) has profound concerns with the idea of pursuing ex situ (captive) breeding of small cetaceans as a conservation measure for endangered species. To this end we have produced a white paper, ‘The Seaworthiness of Noah’s Ark: Ex Situ Conservation Cannot Save Endangered Cetaceans’, outlining our position in this regard, which can be read here.