When One Voice inspected the facility
in September this year we found nine dolphins living in deplorable
conditions. The enclosure was only eight feet deep at its deepest
end. The dolphins had no access to shade from the burning sun
and many had unusually dark skin, as a result of sunburn. Three
dolphins were held in isolation for training purposes. They were
locked up for days in confinements that measured just ten by ten
Polluted pond poses health risk
Discovery‚s facility not only violated the welfare of the
dolphins; it also posed environmental problems. The natural
water flow from an adjacent salt pond was cut off by a road that
had not previously been there. Whether the road had been built
by the former administration or by the dolphin facility itself
is unclear but, as a result, the pond overflowed when heavy rain
set in, affecting businesses and private property in the area.
Worse yet, there was concern among locals that the stagnant
water of the pond was contaminated, which could pose health risks
A government under pressureThe only way to alleviate the flooding
from the polluted pond was to restore the natural water flow into
the ocean. In order to do so, the dirty water would have to run
through the dolphin enclosure, thereby exposing the dolphins to
pollution. The new government in Antigua repeatedly asked Dolphin
Discovery to move the dolphins to another location in Antigua
for this reason, but Dolphin Discovery ignored their requests.
They also failed to show up for a meeting with government officials
to resolve the crisis.
We're told that, at some point, the desperate idea surfaced among
some ministers to simply unplug the drain and let the water from
the salt pond flow into the dolphin pen. This would have meant
disaster for the dolphins. The filthy water almost certainly would
have made them sick, perhaps even killed them. Another bad idea
that circulated was that of pushing the dolphins out of their
enclosure and into the ocean. But this, too, was an objectionable
approach. There was no reassurance whatsoever that the dolphins
were capable of foraging on their own, or that they were even
in good health. Furthermore, Antigua & Barbuda and surrounding
islands are over-fished. There is simply not enough fish in the
area to sustain nine dolphins, and we predict they would have
starved to death.
Urging the government to let the dolphins return home
When Martha Watkins-Gilkes of the Antigua & Barbuda Independent
Tourism Promotion Corporation (ABITPC) asked Ric O‚Barry,
Marine Mammal Specialist for One Voice, for help in resolving
the dolphin dilemma, he immediately traveled to Antigua where
he met with the Minister of Health, Mr. Maginley. Ric pointed
out to the minister that the dolphins would not survive if the
government simply pushed them out of their enclosure and out to
sea. He also pointed out that the dolphins' health would be at
great risk if the polluted water was given access to the dolphin
enclosure. He made it clear to the authorities that sending the
dolphins to another captive dolphin facility was another dreadful
idea that would only result in the dolphins‚ continued suffering.
"The right thing to do is confiscate the dolphins and implement
a proper rehabilitation process with the ultimate goal of releasing
the dolphins back into their home waters in Cuba," Ric said.
freedom in sight
ABITPC and One Voice negotiated with government officials for
three long weeks, calling for the dolphins' confiscation, rehabilitation
and release. Sadly, the government did not take our advice. Instead
they allowed Dolphin Discovery to relocate the dolphins to another
exploitative captive dolphin facility in Tortola. They thereby
prevented any possibility of giving the nine victim dolphins their
freedom back. This is obviously a major disappointment to us all.
At the same time we are happy to announce that we were able to
persuade the government not to put the dolphins‚ lives at
risk by forcing them to leave their enclosure or flooding their
enclosure with polluted water.
Banning dolphin captivity in Antigua & Barbuda
and One Voice are now lobbying with government officials to deny
Dolphin Discovery a permit to return to Antigua & Barbuda,
and to implement legislation to ban dolphin captivity from these
you can do
write a letter to the Prime Minister of Antigua.
Express your disappointment that the government did not
do what was best for the dolphins, which was to let them
return to Cuba for rehabilitation and release.
Urge the government not to allow Dolphin Discovery to return
to Antigua & Barbuda in the future.
Urge the government to learn from past mistakes and ban
dolphin captivity from Antigua & Barbuda forever.
· Send your letter to The Honorable Prime Minister
Baldwyn Spencer at fax number 1- 268 462 3225.
· Email copies of your letter to The Antigua Sun
· and to the editor of Daily Observer : firstname.lastname@example.org
illegal trade in dolphins
Discovery, as far as we know, is operated by US citizens. It is
illegal for US citizens to trade in Cuban dolphins, and One Voice
and Canadian activist Gwen McKenna have reported the incident
to the US Government. In August this year another US citizen,
Dr. Graham Simpson, was given a fine by the U.S. Treasury Department
for violating the trade embargo against the communist nation by
purchasing Cuban dolphins for a dolphin swim attraction in Anguilla,
formerly known as Dolphin Fantaseas.