21 December 2008

Resorts World Sentosa dolphins: what do they go through?

Earth Island Institute in the Philippines slammed Ocean Adventure Park at Subic for taking the seven dolphins from the Solomon Islands. The Institute says the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands was controversial because the animals could not be declared sustainable since there were no scientific or baseline studies on the current stock and population of dolphins in that area.

Another 11 dolphins are expected to arrive there from the Solomon Islands. The animals are going to be trained at Ocean Adventure for about a year. According to the Earth Island Institute, Resorts World Sentosa will be the final destination of the trained dolphins.

From media reports, it appears Ocean Adventure Park has not fulfilled legal obligations to be a bona fide operation with an effort to stop construction in 2001 and a recent effort in Mar 08 "for continuing to present marine mammal shows in violation of the Animal Welfare Act".

Media reports also suggest Ocean Adventure Park obtained false killer whales (which are actually dolphins) from the infamous Japanese dolphin round up in Taji. Eventually some of these animals died at the Park.

Swim With Dolphins Theme Park in Hot Water
Extracts from Environmental News Service
In 2001, when work on the Ocean Adventure Park first started, the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a cease and desist order against it. It is alleged the developer did not receive an environmental clearance certificate to build the Park. Animal welfare organizations did not see the swim with dolphins plan in an educational light.

The Park's swim with the dolphins programs came under fire: This "adds an increased element of exploitation without adding any perceivable additional educational benefits," wrote the Humane Society of the United States.

"It has been well documented in our facilities that the dolphins do not fare well in captivity," wrote San Diego Animal Advocates. "It would be distressing to see Mr. Desmond profit from the exploitation of your ocean treasures."

"Mr. Desmond’s plan is not only severely threatening to the dolphin population, it also represents one more example of a U.S. citizen profiting from the exploitation of a Philippine resource," wrote the 65,000 member In Defense of Animals group.

"Rather than confining dolphins to a holding facility, you can offer your citizens and visiting guests the opportunity to observe dolphins in their natural environment through boat tours and other outdoor activities," suggested the Doris Day Animal League.

Rights groups seek end of dolphin show
Leila Salaverria, Philippine Daily Inquirer 17 Mar 08;
An animal welfare group and an environmental institute have asked the Court of Appeals to order the Department of Justice to prosecute a Subic-based firm for continuing to present marine mammal shows in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

Ma. Teresita Hontiveros-Lichauco of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society Inc. (Paws) and Ma. Theresa Concepcion of Earth Island Institute (EII) said on Monday the court should nullify the DoJ resolution that led to the dismissal of the case filed against the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium (SBME) and its officials for allegedly failing to register their business with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) as required by law.

The two groups further asked that the DoJ be directed to refile the criminal case against the SBME officials.

The SBME runs Ocean Adventure, which features sea lions and false killer whales in its shows.

The DoJ resolution, issued on November 6, 2007, had said it was not clear if the Animal Welfare Act also covered marine mammals like dolphins, sea lions and false killer whales.

The resolution, a turnabout from an earlier DoJ ruling, also said the SBME officials could not be criminally prosecuted because they were willing to register in compliance with the law.

Because of the resolution, the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court dismissed the criminal case against SBME officials Timothy Desmond, John Corcoran and Gail Laule.

In their petition, Paws and EEI said it was clear from the deliberations in Congress that the Animal Welfare Act include marine mammals and not just land animals.

They quoted Senator Edgardo Angara who had said during the deliberations that the law was “comprehensive enough... to cover all creatures on earth whether land, sea or lake.”

“The public respondent [or DoJ] whimsically and capriciously turned a blind eye to the legislative intent of the law and unwittingly gave in to the assertions of the private respondents, albeit the admitted fact that they did not register in accordance with the law,” said Paws and EEI.

They also pointed out that the SBME officials had admitted that the firm did not follow the law, as they were willing to register with the BAI. The firm had, in fact, registered with the BAI but only in 2006.

This showed that a violation was committed, since the firm had been operating since 2001, the petitioners said.

But the DoJ, they added, ignored the violation by saying that the SBME could not be prosecuted since it was willing to register with the BAI.

False killer whale died at Ocean Adventure Park
from Gulf Times
On 10 Jul 05, A 13-year old false killer whale died at Ocean Adventure Park in Subic Bay. The female whale, named Hook, suffered from a brief illness, which appeared to be gastrointestinal in nature, before it died at the park, a statement released by the management of the Ocean Adventure said. But park officials said they have yet to determine the exact cause of the whale’s death.

False Killer Whales Trapped in Marine Park Nightmare
Extracts from World Society for the Protection of Animals Feb 02
Two false killer whales have already died under "unknown circumstances" in the care of Ocean Adventure. The four dolphins were originally captured in the late 1990's off the coast of Japan, during a violent "drive fishery." Drive fisheries amass huge numbers of whales, dolphins and other marine mammals by trapping entire pods in shallow beach areas.

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