By Ric O’Barry
I am in Germany and Switzerland this week, working with local grassroots organizations dedicated to protecting dolphins to bring the issue of dolphin captivity to the attention of the public here in Europe.
When I first came to Germany years ago to work on captivity, there were nine dolphinariums; today there are only two left. In Switzerland, only one dolphinarium still remains, and the Swiss Parliament recently passed legislation banning further imports of live dolphins for captive shows. We have made tremendous progress over the years, and this week has been marked by major demonstrations and packed press conferences.
My trip to Europe is sponsored by the German Whale and Dolphin Protection Forum (WDSF) and SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund. My thanks to Jürgen Ortmüller, Founder and CEO of WDSF, and Lars Gorschlueter of SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund for their tremendous organizing and support. We held a joint press conference at the Düsseldorf Hotel to announce our opposition to keeping dolphins in captivity. Our message to the German people was simple: “Don’t buy a ticket.”
For video of our German press conference, go here:
As part of the week, I even did an interview for a German children’s show.
Needless to say, the kids who watch these shows are the future leaders of Germany and Switzerland.
WDSF hosts a demonstration every week outside the Duisburg Zoo, which has a shockingly high mortality rate. From 1991 to 2011 alone, fifteen dolphins are known to have died there, according to the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for the Environment. So far this year, WDSF volunteers have handed out 50,000 leaflets to zoo goers, asking them to not buy a ticket to the captive dolphin shows.
We had quite a good time with the crowd and the public all around. The police were very friendly; we had a permit for the demonstration. I’m afraid the dolphin trainers at Duisburg Zoo were not so friendly, turning around with their backs to us in their improvised booth in front of the zoo extolling the keeping of dolphins in captivity.
We then attempted to enter the zoo (yes, we had tickets), which you can watch on my Ustream Channel here.
The following day, we went to Switzerland to demonstrate against the dolphinarium called Connyland, which lost two dolphins last fall when the park held a rave party (with loud techno music) around the dolphin tank. Connyland is the last dolphinarium in Switzerland and should close down now that the Swiss government has banned any further imports of live dolphins.
I want to thank two Swiss women activists, Angie Neuhaus and Gaby Bühler, for organizing our great demonstration at Connyland. More than 200 people turned out for the event.
I raised an additional issue during our German press conference, and that was about EDEKA tuna, sold in Germany.
I hope you will pass the word to your friends in Germany: Don’t buy EDEKA tuna.
And don’t buy a ticket to a dolphin show or swim-with-captive-dolphins program!
I’ll be doing further media interviews in Switzerland.