Digital Journal first caught up with grandma activist Barbara Napoles last January. Still actively campaigning for the welfare of dolphins, Napoles will deliver several petitions to Washington D.C. next week.
As the founder for the social media campaign Save the Blood Dolphins (STBD), the animal lover has been busy.
Fresh off a campaign to save dolphins condemned to horrific conditions in an Indonesian traveling circus, the environmentalist plans to deliver several petitions to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, August 30.
For Napoles it is the culmination of one campaign and the start of another, as her visit will coincide with the upcoming Day of the Dolphin which will be celebrated globally on September 1st. Her first stop will be the Indonesian embassy, to present her petition 'Dolphins Don’t Belong in Traveling Circus.' It is a petition that has garnered over 21,000 signatures.
Hauled from town to town under appalling conditions, dolphins are forced to jump through hoops of fire for a paying public. Operated by a company called Wersut Seguni Indonesia (WSI), the company's operations first came under scrutiny in 2009, after public complaints arose about some of the dolphins dying during performances.
Barbara Napoles at the Positive Change for Taiji event held outside of the Japanese Embassy in Miami last year.
Napoles joined forces with Jakarta Animal Aid Network over the dolphins' conditions and also petitioned Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines to stop the transport of circus dolphins. A major victory for the campaign was achieved after a dolphin sympathizer photographed and documented a dolphin being transported, Napoles said.
After the outcry by activists and some ardent campaigning, Garuda Indonesia's VP of Corporate Communication, Pujibroto said, "Garuda has a commitment to environmental protection, including protecting the dolphins. Garuda will no longer carry the dolphins in the foreseeable future."
"Dolphins don’t belong in traveling circuses," said Napoles of her Indonesian campaign. "They don’t belong in the back of trucks or in cargo planes. These dolphins are being transported in 'dry' coffin-like boxes," she explained, and "the dolphin’s skin has to remain wet at all times." In dry transport Napoles said, "they are just covered with wet towels; it puts dolphins in jeopardy, as the whole weight of the dolphin is basically laying on their major organs."
From the Indonesian embassy, the activist will wend her way to the Japanese embassy to gift a glass paperweight engraved with dolphins which she hopes will be forwarded to the Mayor of Taiji, Kazutaka Sangenin. Given in the spirit of 'good will and friendship,' the paperweight is a thank you to the Mayor for his actions "in graciously moving two dolphins out of the world’s smallest dolphin tank." Napoles said.
The activist initiated a petition to give the spotted dolphins better living conditions after they were observed languishing in an indoor tank at the Taiji Whale Museum.
Napoles credits and applauds martial arts expert Enson Inoue for his instrumental role in mediating the move of the two dolphins. Inoue personally called the Mayor of Taiji about the two dolphins nicknamed Sad and Lonely, by activists. After a visit by the Mayor to the Taiji Whale Museum, the dolphins renamed 'Hope and Faith' were relocated to an outdoor pool.
As if a visit to two embassies isn't enough, Napoles will then travel back to Miami to host a rally on August 31st in honor of the Day of the Dolphin. The rally which will coincide with over 90 other events worldwide, will take place outside of the Japanese Embassy at 80 SW 8 St. in Miami from 2:00 to 6:00 PM and will protest the forthcoming dolphin drive season set to begin in Taiji, Japan, on Sep. 1. It will be the activist's second rally this year for Taiji's dolphins, she was there last January as part of the 'Occupy The Cove' movement.
"The captivity industry around the world is partially fed by the hunts and captures of dolphins in Taiji, a situation I became aware of when I first saw the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove," Napoles said. "Being an avid sailor, I’ve had many encounters with wild dolphins out at sea. Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures that are not given any choices on how to eat, live and breed in marine theme parks; all of this is done for them when they are held captive."
The activist doesn't believe that she has a choice in the matter. "I have to do this for the future of my grandchildren." she said, "I want them to see dolphins in the wild when they grow up." More importantly, Napoles added emphatically, "the world needs to be informed, that captivity is not educational!"