By Ric O’Barry
The Dolphin Project
Over the years, I have fought the construction of many dolphinariums around the world. We have a pretty good record of defeating these proposals and closing down old facilities, as you can see from our list:
The Dolphin Project, along with the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) and other organizations, has been keeping a close eye on the trouble brewing along the coastline of Sindhudurg in India. A large Sea World dolphin facility was given an initial nod of approval in October 2011 by the government of Maharashtra, with an eye towards developing tourism in the area. Thanks to decisive action on many fronts, however, these plans are generating a lot of opposition.
“The land for Sea World, to be built on a PPP model, will soon be identified and constructions will start on the lines of a dolphin theme park in Florida,” state Tourism Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said shortly after the approval was announced. Mr. Bhujbal made several trips to SeaWorld in Orlando and other captivity hotbeds with the hopes of learning from and emulating the dubious successes of these facilities.
While the lure of tourism is certainly strong, and is not something that any nation should be deprived of, there are many dolphin-safe alternatives that should be explored rather than captivity, especially those based on the inane SeaWorld model of having dolphins do spectacular tricks to loud music and calling it “educational.”
For example, watching dolphins in the wild is a much more authentic and exhilarating experience than watching them swim around in tiny circles in a tank. India is a dolphin captivity-free nation, and it should remain that way forever. There are many other ways of bringing tourists into this naturally beautiful area without sacrificing the dolphins.
After receiving public pressure from FIAPO, Dolphin Project and concerned people around the world, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has issued an official request for the government of Maharashtra to not entertain the proposal, citing previous cases of dolphin abuse and death at the hands of the captivity industry, as well as questioning the claim that the facility will conform to it’s stated objective of conserving wildlife.
While the proposal has not yet been abandoned, pressure from the MoEF is certainly a boon to the cause. FIAPO will continue to hold screenings of The Cove and raise awareness within India, and we will make sure that the international spotlight shines brightly onto the government of Maharashta to ensure they make the right decision.
For the time being, India remains a dolphin safe nation.
Please sign this petition and send letters to the government of India to express your concern: