Thursday, May 18, 2006

Group fighting dolphins' captivity!

International animal welfare groups today launched an emotionally charged national initiative urging all New Zealanders to lobby Napier City Council not to replace Shona, the Marineland dolphin that died last month.

The "Captive for an Audience" campaign has been organised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), together with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), the SPCA, Project Jonah and SAFE.

New Zealanders are being urged to flood council postboxes with postcards urging it to phase out the use of captive dolphins on animal welfare grounds.

Marineland, which also acts as a rescue and rehabilitation facility for injured seabirds and animals, is the only New Zealand facility with a captive dolphin programme.

WSPA New Zealand manager, Kimberly Muncaster, said Marineland seriously compromised the country's "progressive stance" on marine animal welfare.

"Many countries have banned the capture and confinement of dolphins. It's time that New Zealand followed suit and closed the door on this unnecessary and cruel form of entertainment," Ms Muncaster said.

A dolphin's "smile" was an anatomical feature, not an indication of its health or emotional state, she said. New Zealanders needed to look behind the "smile" to see the suffering that life in captivity caused.

"The physical and psychological suffering is immense," Ms Muncaster said.
Dolphins were far-ranging, fast-moving, deep-diving predators.

"They are also highly social mammals that which form close and complex relationships with their pod mates." Half the world's captive dolphins died due to the process of capture and confinement, intestinal disease, chlorine poisoning or stress.

"I urge all New Zealanders to join our campaign to end this suffering," Ms Muncaster said. Meanwhile, Napier city councillor Harry Lawson and pro-dolphin supporters have launched a website aimed at encouraging more people to sign a 10,000-signature petition to Government to clear the way for Marineland to secure one or more captive-bred dolphins as company for its sole surviving dolphin, Shona.

The website offers visitors a full history of Marineland, a link to San Diego Sea World, a progress report on the petition and lists ways they can help. Anyone keen to see Shona replaced can visit the site at

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"