By Ric O’Barry
Things are continuing to get complicated in Indonesia. I was supposed to go home last week, but I stayed here in Bali anticipating a move of two dolphins, named Made and Wayan, who are kept in a small filthy swimming pool at a local café for the tourists. We had the Minister of Forestry himself come to see these dolphins, and he announced their treatment was inhumane and he would seize them with our help and move them to our sea pen for rehabilitation and release.
Well, last night the dolphins were spirited away from Bali and the café, being driven in a truck into the teeth of a typhoon to get them away from us. It is still not clear what the outcome will be. Below are the details by our friends from Jakarta Animal Aid Network
I will remain here in Bali until this can be sorted out, but we urge the Forestry Minister to take action. – Ric O’Barry
Illegally Captive Dolphins in Bali Kidnapped!
Under an otherwise sunny and peaceful day on the southern beaches of Bali, Indonesia, another dark shadow is cast over the captive dolphin industry and the lack of government enforcement
The public, local, national, and regional press is outraged at the direct and blatant breach of contract, breach of commitment, breach of national laws and regulations regarding captive dolphins, Made and Wayan, being displayed at the Akame Restaurant in Benoa Harbor, Bali, Indonesia.
After openly admitting to the public and the press that Made and Wayan were being kept and commercially exploited illegally and that he would himself ensure the facility was closed down and Made and Wayan delivered immediately to a rehabilitation center that has been specifically designed for their rehabilitation, care, and release back into their natural habitat. But it appears the public announcements and promises provided care of the Mister of Forestry, Minister Zul Hasan, may have been lip service.
Following public meetings and forums during the first week of February in Jakarta questioning the captive dolphin industry and exploitation of dolphins for commercial use, the head of the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia, Minister Zul Hasan, flew personally to Bali on the 13th of February to witness first hand one of the many locations in Bali and throughout Indonesia known to be holding two male dolphins, Made and Wayan, purchased illegally and held in captivity without legal permits being openly used for commercial exploitation in extremely inadequate and in many cases life-threatening conditions. In front of the international press, NGO’s, and general public, the Minister directly stated in a groundbreaking milestone and a shining ray of hope for the widespread need for strict enforcement of illegal animal trade and captivity in Indonesia, that he would personally oversee the closing of the facility, transport, and release of Made and Wayan to a facility built in 2010 specifically for the purpose of assisting the Government to properly care, rehabilitate and release the dolphins back to their natural habitat. During his visit the Minister claimed the Akame Restaurant facilities in Bali were “cruel and unacceptable”, and since the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) and Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project had built a fully functional rehabilitation center in Karimun Jawa ready to receive them, Made and Wayan could be transported humanely and released directly into the sea-pen where the healing process could begin.
This all in following an MOU that was signed between JAAN, Dolphin Project and the Forestry Department dating back to October 2010 to rehabilitate the widely uncovered and documented illegal captive dolphins in Indonesia, which were found and documented to be kept in centers in Java and then shipped in grossly inadequate trucks and containers around the world’s largest island archipelago, in the world’s last remaining traveling Dolphin Circus.
However, following the signing of the MOU in 2010, the rehabilitation center has remained empty and the Minister had achieved no positive progress or action up until the direct public announcement and claim of enforcement responsibility on the 13th of February 2013, in Bali. This past lack of progress in enforcement of this illegal trade is likely due to pressure from the captive dolphin industry to influence various factions of the Ministry against following through on their responsibilities for law enforcement.
A dolphin in the traveling dolphin circus jumps through a flaming hoop. Photo by Kate Tomlinson/DolphinProject.com.
When the Minister finally heard about all of these problems and directly addressed the Indonesian public and media starting the first week of February 2013 at the @America Center in Jakarta, and his subsequent declaration of justice in Bali on the 13th of December, daily media articles, news, and social media flooded the airwaves. The Minister was publicly applauded by a wide audience, both nationally and internationally, for his direct and open address to the public and commitment to proper law enforcement. The news that these dolphins would be released enlightened many people, including those tourists who had reported about the poor conditions of the dolphins and were appalled that a tourism destination such as Bali would allow such cruel and blatant exploitation.
However, for ten days following this public announcement, the Akame Restaurant continued to hold its commercial dolphin shows and no subsequent action was taken. This lead to a local protest at the site on Friday 22nd February, attended by concerned citizens who alerted the media to question the lack of follow-up enforcement and to question the commitments made to immediately release the dolphins to their rightful natural habitat.
Now, all our equipment and a helicopter have been prepared for the transfer of Made and Wayan to the sea pen from Bali. Groups and experts have been mobilized, flown in from around the world, and prepared in urgency to assist the Minister with his admirable commitment to relocate these Made and Wayan to Karimun Jawa rehabilitation center, constructed by Dolphin Project’s world famous dolphin activist Ric O’Barry and JAAN.
The sea pen for rehab and release of dolphins in Indonesia remains empty. Built by JAAN and Dolphin Project, the pen has recently been repaired, ready for dolphins. Photo by Kate Tomlinson/DolphinProject.com
As the team was on standby in Bali for the relocation exercise, the news that the two dolphins left Akame Restaurant clandestinely on Saturday 23rd February at approximately 17:00 came as a shock and direct breach and conflict to the commitments that had been made to date. The dolphins are now currently on a truck, to be transported inhumanely over 20 hours or more to be put in a condition even worse than that noted by the Minister as being “cruel and unacceptable”. They are understood to be headed back to the original dolphin captivity center for the traveling Circus in Weleri, Central Java. The owner of the travel show has his holding station there, and it is widely documented that this is the where Made and Wayan were originally kept and sold to unlicensed commercial exploitation facilities around the country.
This transport should not have been allowed. Further acknowledging the lack of care of these animals, it is clear no one has checked with the meteorology center of Indonesia – Made and Wyan are heading into a tropical depression with heavy rain and sustained winds up to 40 knots predicted for the next 4-5 days. It is likely that marine transportation in Indonesia crossing islands could be halted or considered extremely dangerous with small and large craft advisories in place, further jeopardizing the safety of Made and Wayan in the current makeshift transportation vehicle. The transportation of these animals overland, and across public ferries, in inadequate trucks with inadequate health and safety considerations, back to their original captive location where they were originally sold illegally, is in breach of all commitments, laws, and regulations as openly recognized by those responsible for both creating and enforcing the laws pertaining to this subject, the Ministry of Forestry as representative of the Indonesian Government.
Instead the dolphins should have been, as promised, transported by helicopter and expert team that were pre-arranged, who have been waiting voluntarily and patiently in Bali for more than 10 days, on a journey that would have taken only three hours, and would have brought the animals home, to be nursed and released to their families and their natural environment, where they so rightfully belong. The current transport violates national and international laws and regulations, by-laws, and treaties and must be stopped immediately.
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