Which environment is better for dolphins? We are calling on the Dutch public to decide.” ~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project
Dolphin Project is formally inviting Harderwijk Dolphinarium to join us on common ground and participate in a project that will determine if captive dolphins are happier in a dolphin sanctuary, versus a dolphinarium.
During a productive debate on RTL Late Night, a live national television broadcast in Holland, Harderwijk veterinarian Dr. Niels van Elk claimed the dolphins are “happy” at the dolphinarium.
Ric O’Barry and the Dolphin Project disagree. We think the dolphins would be happier and healthier in a more natural environment, like a coastal sanctuary built specifically for dolphins.
We are proposing a sabbatical for three of the dolphins now being held at the dolphinarium. If the decision makers agree, Harderwijk and Dolphin Project will work together to transfer the mammals from Harderwijk to a newly-created dolphin sanctuary, where they will remain for two years. Trainers that have previously worked with the animals at the dolphinarium are welcome to join the dolphins and remain with them for the duration of the experiment.
The parameters of the two-year dolphin sabbatical are as follows:
- No dolphin shows
- No swim-with-dolphins interactions
- No artificial insemination and captive breeding
The sanctuary will live stream the dolphins in order that the public can observe their progress, both underwater and topside. A professional team will be assembled to monitor the well-being of the animals, including veterinarians, scientists and other professional staff with marine mammal husbandry experience. A nearby fish farm will supply live, fresh fish to meet the dolphins’ nutritional needs, replacing the dead, frozen fish they are currently consuming.
At the end of two years, the Dutch people will be asked to vote on which facility they think is ultimately best for the dolphins. We feel that the people should have the final say.
During these two years, the various groups, individuals and organizations that regularly protest the front gate of Harderwijk will also take a sabbatical. They, along with Harderwijk staff, are welcome to visit the sanctuary, with the project acting as a common ground uniting Harderwijk, the scientific community and the demonstrators.
If this initial proposal is acceptable, we will develop a Memorandum of Understanding and a more detailed plan of action between the Dolphin Project and Harderwijk.
Founder/Director, Dolphin Project