Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dolphinarium is getting ready to go!

Building work has been completed on a dolphinarium in Dubai and the opening is less than three months away, a senior official has told Gulf News.

Fitting out is currently underway at the new facility, which will form part of Dubai Marine World at Dubai Creek Park.

When announced two years ago, the plans for the dolphinarium caused concerns among animal welfare campaigners who said it was cruel to keep dolphins in captivity and make them perform tricks.

Dubai Municipality pressed ahead with the scheme, and Salah Al Qaiwani, head of contracts at Dubai Municipality, said its opening was not far away.

"Construction is finished. Now they are working on interiors," he said.

He told Gulf News the dolphin earmarked for the new facility was currently living in poor conditions in a dolphinarium in the Ukraine.

Poor conditions

The animal - a third-generation captive bottlenose dolphin - could be joined by a second dolphin.
"This dolphin lives in a bad environment and we will be trying to do our best to make it a nice environment," Al Qaiwani said.

Al Qaiwani said the new dolphinarium would encourage conservation efforts by educating children about the environment and "how nice" dolphins were.

"A lot of people will learn how we should take care of dolphins and how sensitive they are to changes in the environment, and what we should do to protect them," he said.

"Thousands of dolphins die because of pollution and wars and other reasons and this one dolphin might be the saviour of thousands of dolphins."

After the dolphinarium proposals were made public, The Humane Society International wrote to Dubai Municipality saying that even if captive-bred animals were used in the new facility, it would encourage the capture of wild animals.

Also, the organisation said the dolphinarium would lead to "suffering and high dolphin mortality".
An online petition was set up by campaigners to try to get the municipality to shelve the proposals.
Dubai Marine World is costing at total of Dh205 million and has been developed by Dubai Municipality with British Virgin Islands-based company Royal Segrex.

As well as the dolphinarium, Dubai Marine World will also include a fish farm, a coral reef aquarium, a research and therapy centre and a centre called Gatorville.

Another dolphinarium is planned in Dubai at the Atlantis resort in the Palm Jumeirah.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"