Dolphin Project can confirm that Honey, one of the most well-known captive dolphins in Japan has died.
Dolphin Project first obtained exclusive footage of Honey in September 2018, sent to us from local Japanese activists. The bottlenose dolphin was captured in Taiji’s brutal drive hunts in 2005 for “life” in captivity. She, along with 46 penguins and hundreds of fish and reptiles, remained incarcerated at Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium in the city of Choshi in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, while the fate of the facility remained in limbo. For months, the animals were fed by a paid employee but were otherwise left alone. Dolphin Project reached out extensively to our Japanese colleagues in attempts to seek a resolution for Honey and the other abandoned animals but sadly, no resolution was to be found.
In November 2018, according to a well-informed source, the aquarium was in debt and seeking a buyer. The following year in 2019, we learned that the aquarium had indeed been sold, and along with it, Honey. The sale of the park was confirmed by the Kaisou Health Center, which managed the health of the animals at Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium.
In late February of this year, we reached out to our Japanese colleagues once again in attempts to purchase Honey in order that she could be retired in peace and dignity. These conversations ended in early March when it became apparent Honey was unlikely to survive. Later that month on March 29, Honey died in her tank.
Sadly, her situation isn’t unique. Dolphin Project has encountered dolphins in the United States, South Korea, Haiti, Indonesia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia and Brazil whom were all in similar situations as Honey. In many instances, we were able to successfully rehabilitate and re-release these mammals.
In October 2019, 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. 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.
Honey’s plight attracted worldwide attention, and sparked a huge movement from within Japan. While tragically, she wasn’t able to escape the manmade enclosure she suffered in, Honey will remain the face of dolphin captivity for many years to come.
Featured image: Bottlenose dolphin Honey at Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium, city of Choshi in Chiba prefecture, Japan