Local governments across India are being told not to grant permission to anyone wishing to establish “dolphin parks”, citing a history of animal cruelty associated with such parks.
In a letter issued Tuesday, officials with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) stated they have become aware of several proposals in different states around the country seeking permission to establish dolphinariums. The letter goes on to say the group is strongly opposed to dolphinariums and urges officials in Indian states to “take necessary steps to ensure such facilities are not established.”
According to India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, anyone wishing to use animals for the purpose of entertainment must obtain a permit and be registered with the AWBI. The AWBI letter advises that they have not issued permits to anyone wishing to use dolphins or other cetaceans in an entertainment capacity. Therefore, according to AWBI, any importation or exhibition of performance cetaceans would be in direct violation of the cruelty act. They go on to say that they will not issue permits to anyone wishing to use cetaceans in any type of entertainment capacity in the future.
AWBI vice-chairman, S. Chinny Krishna, told the New York Times:
“All types of studies have shown that these animals, after capture, are under a very high level of stress. A wild animal belongs in the wild. That’s why they’re called wild animals – these are not domestic animals.”
Krishna went on to say that dolphinariums serve “no educational purpose” and are “purely for making money”.
N. Venugopal, chairman of the Greater Cochin Development Authority, denies that dolphin parks are cruel, saying:
“It is not cruel. People will be entertained.”
The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) praised the AWBI’s announcement, saying that animals used in dolphinariums are captured through cruel methods. FIAPO’s campaign manager, Puja Mitra, told The Hindu:
“This move of the AWBI’s is a big step forward to ensure that India never has captive dolphins — a barbaric practice that is fast being phased out internationally. Additionally, dolphinariums have absolutely no conservation or educational value.”
In 1998, Chennai’s Dolphin City brought in four dolphins to perform for visitors. All of the dolphins died within a few months due to inadequate care and unsuitable infrastructure.
The announcement comes nearly a year after government officials in Maharashtra announced plans to allow Sea World to build an oceanarium in Konkan, a city 450 km south of Mumbai. In March of 2012, the Maharashtra government announced it would begin the process of acquiring land for a Sea World theme park within six months.
In June of last year, Daily News India reported that land acquisition had not yet begun and that the project was expected to take 3 years to complete. It is believed that the AWBI’s announced refusal to issue legally required permits will halt the project.
Two emails sent to SeaWorld’s Communications Department requesting comment on the AWBI announcement have gone unanswered.