BALI: Dolphin Project is saddened to report that Dewa, one of four dolphins confiscated from the Melka Excelsior Hotel in Lovina, north Bali succumbed today to his longstanding illness.
“When Dewa was first rescued from the Melka Excelsior Hotel, his white blood cell count was four times higher than normal. He had never received serious medical attention for his chronic pneumonia – something our team immediately corrected. He had no life in him, but in time, he slowly gained interest in his surroundings. Johnny, one of our other rescue dolphins invited him to play and at times, he was very interested in engaging.” ~ Femke den Haas, Dolphin Project’s Indonesian Campaign Manager
Dewa had a very troubled past. During many of the 12+ years he was held in a small, chlorinated pool at the hotel, Dewa was sick with chronic pneumonia that was not properly treated. He was frequently seen throwing himself against the side of the pool which left his body covered in multiple, deep cuts. Dewa also suffered from emotional trauma.
Our rescue team transferred Dewa from the swimming pool to our Dolphin Sanctuary in Banyuwedang Bay in West Bali on October 8, 2019. Fortunately, his previous caretakers were willing to work with our team, having lost their jobs at the hotel upon its closure.
After months of intensive care and diagnostic tests by our on-staff veterinarian including consultations by foreign veterinarians, including ultrasounds, x-rays and bloodwork, we managed to improve Dewa’s condition. He gained weight, his skin lesions healed and he regained some of his interest in swimming, diving and playing with his friend, Johnny.
“Dewa looked so much healthier and better in the seapen and I had so much hope. He was always struggling with his health but I finally saw him happier. Still, he is gone. I hate this so much and I miss him. The dolphin captivity industry makes me so angry, something I was a part of for so long.” ~ Wahyu, Coordinator of Dolphin Caretaker Team, Bali Dolphin Sanctuary
During the past few weeks, Dewa became lethargic. He lost his appetite, along with an interest in his surroundings. Our team transferred Dewa into isolation in a medical pen. Despite the team’s round-the-clock medical interventions, including tube feeding, hydration and medications, Dewa’s strength waned, and he took his last breath on March 11, 2020.
Veterinarian Deny Rahmadani and our veterinary supervisors all concluded that Dewa has suffered from a (non contagious) chronic condition which had harmed him for years; pneunomia left untreated which resulted in having one unfunctional lung. An autopsy was performed and we are awaiting the results from testing.
We knew his odds were poor but nonetheless, Dolphin Project was committed to providing Dewa the best possible chance of recovery. Dewa was a very special dolphin. While we are heartbroken at our loss, we are thankful he was able to spend his last months swimming in the healing waters of the Bali Dolphin Sanctuary, no longer abused at human hands.
Dolphin Project is fully committed to the health and welfare of Rocky, Rambo and Johnny, the other three dolphins who continue to thrive and rehabilitate in the healing waters of the Bali Dolphin Sanctuary. Never again will they suffer at human hands.
Dolphin Project would like to thank the following people who were responsible for Dewa’s care: Femke den Haas, Wahyu, Coordinator of Dolphin Caretaker Team, team members Pasek, Susilo, Susanto, Kadek, Gede, Amank, Sudarno, Alek and our wonderful medical team Dr. Deny Hatief and Dr Rini who worked around the clock.
After receiving many complaints of animal welfare violations observed at the Melka Hotel, the Ministry of Forestry asked our team to investigate. Due to the extraordinary efforts of Ms. Indra Exploitasia, Director of Biodiversity Conservation and Directorate General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the immediate confiscation of all the animals was ordered.
On August 6, the Melka Excelsior Hotel in Lovina, north Bali was closed down. Following its closure, the four performing dolphins, Rocky, Rambo, Johnny and Dewa were confiscated from their deplorable conditions. Unfortunately, just two days before their confiscation, a fifth dolphin, Gombloh died at the hotel as a result of his captivity.
On October 8, Dolphin Project, in conjunction with our local partners, the Central Jakarta Forestry Department and JAAN established the world’s first permanent dolphin sanctuary. The Bali Dolphin Sanctuary, located in Banyuwedang Bay in West Bali, is the first of its kind in the world to care for formerly captive dolphins, with Rocky, Rambo, Johnny and Dewa the first dolphins to be brought here. Prior to the sanctuary being built, we constructed the world’s first permanent facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of dolphins in Kemujan, Karimun Jawa. Named Camp Lumba Lumba (lumba being the Indonesian word for dolphin), the rehabilitation center addresses the need for effective enforcement mechanisms of a law banning wild dolphin captures in Indonesia.
Featured image: Dewa at the Bali Dolphin Sanctuary, Credit: Pepe Arcos