Bali, Indonesia, 12-9-19: Approximately four months after two bottlenose dolphins named Rocky and Rambo were confiscated from the Melka Excelsior Hotel in North Bali, Dolphin Project, in conjunction with our local partners, the Central Jakarta Forestry Department and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) successfully relocated the mammals to the world’s first permanent dolphin sanctuary.
The sanctuary, located in Banyuwedang Bay in West Bali is already home to two other bottlenose dolphins, Johnny and Dewa, who were confiscated on October 8 from the same hotel.
After receiving many complaints of animal welfare violations observed at the Melka Hotel, the Ministry of Forestry asked our team to investigate. Due to the extraordinary efforts of Ms. Indra Exploitasia, Director of Biodiversity Conservation and Directorate General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the immediate confiscation of all the animals was ordered.
Says Femke den Haas, Dolphin Project’s Indonesian Campaign Manager, “It’s been a huge day. No words can describe my feelings after seeing Rocky and Rambo, held captive under such shocking and horrific conditions for so many years, finally being able to move freely in ocean water, doing what they want, not what people want them to do.” She continues, “The whole team couldn’t hold their tears when Rocky and Rambo entered the ocean water inside the sanctuary. Flooded with emotions, we saw them finally getting the quality of life they deserve.”
Rocky and Rambo were violently captured in the Java Sea several years ago, and then spent several years incarcerated in a shallow, heavily chlorinated swimming pool at the Melka Hotel. Alongside Johnny and Dewa (and a fifth dolphin named Gombloh who died two days prior to our team’s rescue efforts), the dolphins were trained to obey commands and perform in theatrical shows that attract crowds of fun-seeking holiday makers. In between repetitive, rowdy shows, the two dolphins spent much time floating listlessly on the surface. They could swim only a few feet before a wall stopped them. Confinement in such barren, unnatural surroundings took a heavy toll on Rocky and Rambo’s well-being.
On August 5, Dolphin Project, JAAN and the Central Jakarta Forestry Department confiscated Rocky and Rambo, transporting them to a temporary floating sea enclosure in Sanur. In recent months, the two dolphins gained weight, with both maintaining a healthy appetite. They have become great companions for one another and their physical and mental recovery continues to improve on a daily basis. With Rocky and Rambo’s relocation to the Bali Dolphin Sanctuary, all four rescued dolphins will be together at the same location for the first time since their initial confiscation.
Indonesia has now set the gold standard for the future of captive dolphins worldwide. With a permanent solution for retirement, dolphins no longer have to languish in tanks. What we accomplished in Indonesia can happen across the world, and represents the next phase in Dolphin Project’s ‘Empty the Tanks’ campaign.
Says Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project and pioneer in the field of readapting captive dolphins for release, “It’s been ten long years of struggle and determination since Lincoln and Femke discovered a group of dolphins trapped in a polluted swimming pool at the Melka Hotel in North Bali. They vowed to shut down the extremely abusive operation and empty the tanks. Against all odds, they pulled it off! Today, all four dolphins are together in the world’s only dolphin sanctuary. Our rescue mission proves the importance of never giving up, even when you are banging your head against the wall in frustration. Most dolphins who end up in small tanks never make it out alive. These four did. Measurable progress; it’s a beautiful thing to behold.”
Ideally, Rocky and Rambo will be released back into their original home range in Central Java but that all depends on their progress. Under the careful supervision of Ric O’Barry, our team of medical professionals and staff will be closely evaluating Rocky and Rambo’s progress for possible readaptation into their home range. Johnny and Dewa are unsuitable for release and are able to retire here, in their permanent home in peace and dignity. With our team fully committed to the dolphins’ ongoing care, Rocky, Rambo, Johnny and Dewa, in the 13 meter deep crystal-clear water of the spacious sanctuary sea pen, can once again enjoy the natural rhythms and sounds of the sea.
Featured image: Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project feeds Rocky and Rambo, Bali Dolphin Sanctuary, Indonesia. Credit: DolphinProject.com/Tim Calver
YOUR HELP IS URGENTLY NEEDED
You can help with our overhead costs and ensure that the dolphins in our care will receive regular medical care, food and staff supervision. Please consider a recurring donation to our Bali Dolphin Sanctuary!
Lincoln O’Barry and Femke den Haas first discovered the Melka Excelsior Hotel while filming Blood Dolphin$. We launched our Free Bali Dolphins campaign to bring awareness to the horrific traveling dolphin circuses, and the suffering captive dolphins endure under the guise of entertainment. Our team on the ground has been working for years to put an end to dolphin exploitation across Indonesia. As part of our Free Bali Dolphins campaign, we launched a major initiative to close these exploitative operations including a graffiti & mural art initiative, electronic billboards throughout Indonesia, digital ads at the Bali airport and a traveling educational puppet show. From advocating against the notorious traveling circuses to educating on the importance of marine conservation to enlightening tourists on the suffering of captive dolphins, we remain committed to the mammals’ welfare and protection. Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the USA (Tax ID 47-1665067). Your donations are tax-deductible.