Dolfinarium Harderwijk plans to transfer twelve animals to Hainan Ocean Paradise in Lingshui, China. According to the dolphinarium, two walruses, eight bottlenose dolphins and two California sea lions will be included in the transfer.
After a critical report by the Zoos Committee, which was released last autumn, Minister Carola Schouten, Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality demanded that the dolphinarium change course. “Doing nothing is not an option,” she told the House of Representatives in September. Concerns included lack of adequate space for their mammals, and the park’s focus on tricks, versus education.*
*Source: The Stentor News, 4-19-21
Dolphin Project strongly condemns this transfer, and has provided a letter of objection to the Minister’s office. Instead of transferring the animals, specifically, the eight dolphins to China, where no nationwide laws exist that prohibit the mistreatment of animals, the Netherlands should consider an ethical solution such as a European sanctuary, modeled after the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center located in Bali, Indonesia, the first ever permanent dolphin rehabilitation, release and retirement facility for formerly performing dolphins. Currently, Dolphin Project is working with Jonian Dolphin Conservation in Taranto, Italy to create a sanctuary for European dolphins. The pandemic has slowed things down, but we continue to make measurable progress.
“The traffic in marine mammals to fill the tanks in China is disgraceful. Russia and Japan have been the worst offender. It’s sad to now see Holland get getting involved in this dirty business. The creation of sanctuaries is the best solution for the animals, not dumping them in Chinese amusement parks.” ~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project
For many years, Dolphin Project has advocated on behalf of Harderwijk’s dolphins. In 2016, Ric O’Barry participated in a productive debate on RTL Late Night, a live national television broadcast in Holland, refuting a claim made by the dolphinarium’s vet that the dolphins were “happy”.
“When I witnessed the captive dolphin spectacle at Harderwijk dolphinarium in 2016, a dolphin trainer presented them to the audience as “valued members of our family.” What a huge lie that was. Performing dolphins are “family,” until there is no longer any use for them, and Harderwijk dolphinarium is now sending eight of its dolphins to China of all places. China has a deplorable track record as far as animal welfare is concerned, and the dolphins will no doubt be ruthlessly exploited in shows and possibly even be used in breeding programs to produce more trainable dolphins. Apparently, decision makers at Harderwijk dolphinarium couldn’t care less about the dolphins’ plight, as long as they get rid of them.” ~ Helene O’Barry, Dolphin Project
Opened in 1965, Dolfinarium Harderwijk is the largest marine mammal park in Europe. The dolphinarium houses a variety of sea life, including bottlenose dolphins, walruses, harbor porpoises, California sea lions, Steller sea lions, common seals, grey seals, rays, sharks and fish. Pre-pandemic, their VIP program included an in-water component and photo op, allowing guests to touch the dolphins.
Learn more about the dolphin captivity industry.
Featured image: Dolfinarium Harderwijk, credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, Author Crispulop