Free our last 6 dolphins in Belgium.

Delphinarium de Bruges / Bruges delfinarium

Ligue des Familles : un concours pour aller voir les dauphins de Bruges !


La prison aquatique de Bruges. Plus de 20 dauphins sont morts sous ce dôme.

Le Ligueur  lance aujourd’hui un concours qui permettra à des familles de 4 personnes d’aller voir d’autres familles psychiquement détruites au delphinarium de Bruges.

Le Ligueur est le journal de la Ligue des Familles, une honorable organisation belge qui « défend des propositions politiques de soutien à la parentalité, encourage des solidarités collectives entre citoyenparents et permet des échanges d’expériences individuelles de parents ». Nul doute qu’elle ne s’applique à cette mission avec zèle et efficacité.



Roxanne et Bruce, mort au bout de 4 jours

La delphine Roxanne et son bébé seront certainement les vedettes de cette belle visite offerte par  Le Ligueur.
Quel spectacle émouvant ! Quelle tendre maman ! Quel mignon delphineau !

Mais sait-on que Roxanne fut arachée à sa famille dans le Golfe du Mexique en 1988, qu’elle a vu ses frères mourir l’un après l’autre après la capture et que d’innombrables grossesses lui ont été imposées, années après années, car « quand un dauphin naît, cela veut dire que les dauphins sont heureux » mais surtout qu’ils font grimper le chiffre d’affaires.

Heureuse ?
Roxanne a aussi vu mourir Flo, sa fille bien-aimée décédée à 13 ans en 2010. Elle a vu partir à jamais ses enfants Gorki, Luna et Marco, expédiés vers d’autres prisons aquatiques. Elle a perdu Iggy, Simo, puis ses jumeaux en 2011 et enfin Bruce, mort à l’âge de 3 jours en 2012.

Quant au bébé qui vient de naître, s’il survit, il finira à son tour par être expédié à jamais loin de sa mère. Chez les dauphins libres comme chez nous, les contacts familiaux persistent toute la vie et les mères font le deuil de leur enfant mort…

NOTE 3 juin 2014 : le petit dauphin est mort au bout d’une semaine.



Yotta : une fausse couche a failli la tuer. A-t-elle eu d’autres bébés morts depuis, que l’on nous aurait caché ?


Comment la Ligue des Familles peut-elle encourager un tel  spectacle ? Des dauphins blêmes, malades, drogués, souvent inséminés et maintenus toute leur vie sous un dôme dans une piscine chlorée d’où l’on ne voit le soleil qu’à travers des vitres ?

Comment peut-elle encourager une industrie esclavagiste qui désinforme systématiquement les enfants sur la vraie nature des dauphins et leur fait croire qu’ils sont de gentils toutous saluant de la nageoire ?

Une organisation aussi soucieuse de parentalité devrait proposer au contraire les voyages éco-responsables, où des familles humaines pourraient s’émerveiller du bonheur d’autres familles cétacées, nageant libres et joyeuses dans un océan sans limite.

Les opérateurs de whale-watching respectueux, animés par des scientfiques, ne manquent pourtant pas en Europe, tout près de chez nous.  Voilà un beau cadeau de concours que la Ligue aurait pu offrir !



Grands dauphins à Cherbourg. Photo Florent GECC

Les dauphins sont des êtres sensibles et supérieurement intelligents. Ils aiment leurs enfants autant que nous et leurs liens familiaux sont d’une intensité extrême.
Merci à la Ligue de respecter cela à l’avenir !



A Bruges, 4 dauphins sur 4 ont été capturés en mer.

Site du concours :

Dix bonnes raisons de ne pas aller dans un delphinarium :

Les dauphins ne jouentpas au ballon !


Beachie à Bruges, malade des bronches à cause du chlore

Beachie in Bruges : just an “old” and sick dolphin ?

An article of the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad tells us that Beachie, the 31-year-old male dolphin at the Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges, had to undergo a CT-scan in October.

The medical exam took place at the Causus Clinic in Oudenburg. It seems the vet in charge, Piet De Laender, wanted to find out more about the age-related diseases amongst dolphins.

For some time now, the trainers had noticed that Beachie was behaving differently. They contacted Piet De Laender (Assebroek), a veterinarian specialized in exotic pets in who regularly checks on the inmates of the dolphinarium. The dolphin was sleeping half of the time and was no longer able to perform jumps during the shows.

“Beachie is already 30”, says insidiously De Laender, “and he suffers from age-related diseases”, implying that the death of this “old” dolphin could be a predictable and normal thing. He adds : “But he is not the oldest resident of the dolphinarium”. “Puck is already 47. I wanted to carry out these tests to detect the diseases that could be associated with Beachie’s age.”

beachie-dolphin-scanBeachie scan

Piet de Laender has asked the University of Ghent to do a scan. But Beachie, who has become obese because of captivity, was too heavy to move. “That’s why I had to find an alternative solution”, explains the vet. “Finally I found a closer solution, at the Causus Clinic in Oudenburg. The doctor Koen Vandendriessche has warmly welcomed us. The CT-scan went very well.

According to the vet, Beachie is also the 1st dolphin that has ever experienced this type of exam. He’s now waiting for the images before making a judgment about the health of his patient. As far as we can see on above video,  CT Scan mainly focused on lunges and respiratory system.


De Laender doesn’t mention this point. “We have been able to lift him out of the water using a sort of elevator”. “The dolphin has been wrapped during the transport to avoid injuries and the trainers have kept his skin constantly moist. For a long-distance transport, dolphins are often kept one or two days out of the water.”

Waching with attention images of the video, it seems Beachie is completley stonned. He seems under tanquillizer. Not a move, not a thrill. But he is awake.

“The success of this operation and this transport will be a model in the future to conduct health exams for all the dolphins”, concludes the vet, delighted. As for Beachie, he regained his pool and joined again the 5 other dolphins of the Boudewijn Seapark.


This is, anyway, the well-oiled official discourse of Captivity Industry. It is clearly about transmitting to the public quite a few solid untruths. Starting with the classical staging of good vets and wonderful trainers, who are so concerned about the health of their protégé, Beachie.  Just another old dolphin near to death.

Beachie was born in the Gulf of Mexico around 1982. He beached and was “saved” by SeaWorld in April 1984, but he was never put back to sea. After staying in Orlando, he was deported to the Harderwijk dolphinarium in 1997 and then shipped towards Belgium on the 18th of September 2009, at the Boudewijn Seapark. His “mission” was to replace the previous reproductive male, Tex, who died tragically at the Marineland (Antibes – France), because of the EEP Programs.

Beachie’s health was excellent until he arrived in Bruges. And Beachie was also a great stallion. In SeaWorld and in Harderwijk, he had given birth to Marbel, Sal’ka, T’lisala, Amtan, Palawas, Spetter and Kite, his last viable child, in 2005. Once he was moved to Bruges, he became the dad of only one stillborn child, removed from Yotta’s uterus in 2010, of stillborn twins from “old” Roxanne in 2011, and of one other child of Roxanne, a little boy who died 4 days after his birth in 2012.

bruges-roxanne-enfantRoxanne baby. 4 days.

These deaths occurred in one of the 5 contiguous pools of Bruges, where you can hear, see and feel everything.  And it is not funny to watch the agony of kids or teenagers, like poor Flo for example on the 6th of January 2012, who died alone one night of a strange tooth infection, an infection that seems to affect also Morgan and a lot of captive cetaceans…


Since his transfer from Harderwijk to Bruges, Beachie was feeling lonely and sad. It was a shock for him. He suddenly found himself in a small, limited and dark environment. He was living in a sea pen under the sun and the wind in the Netherlands with several other males, and the poor Beachie had to learn new tricks, new ways to obey and to survive alone, isolated, along with aggressive dominant females and fearful juveniles, under the sinister dome of the Boudewijn Seapark.

The air he was breathing was not the same either: the sea wind blowing on Harderwijk was replaced by a chlorine-loaded atmosphere, that takes you by the throat as soon as you enter the dark dome of the dolphinarium. Bad for your lungs when you are not used to it.

Beachie world

The trainers all think he is a little crazy. He is difficult and only does what he wants. He is even called “the Mongolian”, because of his strange look, right in the orbits. Until recently, Beachie was receiving before each show up to 10 pills of Ciprofloxacin. Ten pills before the show, then 5 pills after and 5 more pills again for the second show. That is 20 doses of antibiotics a day.

Ciprofloxacin (INN) is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic (second generation). Its spectrum of activity covers most of the pathogenic bacteria responsible for respiratory, urinary, gastrointestinal and stomach infections. In this case, the lungs seem to be the cause of the problem: Beachie’s breathing had been erratic and difficult for several months.

medicaments dauphins

Beachie: old ? At 31 years old ?
In the wild, dolphins do not need any vet, pills or food additives. Their life is more dangerous: sharks, pollution, drifting nets…
However, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the average age for wild dolphins is between 40 and 45 for males and more than 50 for females. It’s an average, because, in Sarasota’s bay, Nicklo has celebrated his 63rd birthday in 2013, and BlackDipDoubleDip his 60th.

The fact that Puck is 47 is only exceptional because captive dolphins rarely reach that age. In Bruges, most of them died before 20.
We’ll remember that, the same way, the death of Iris (aged 34) at the Duisburg Zoo had been explained by Dr Manuel Hartmann as a result of her “old age”. Iris had been living for almost 12 years in the wild before being plunged into the hell of the Antwerp Zoo for more than 18 years, alongside with her son Ivo.
The Antwerp dolphinarium was closed in 1999, under the pressure of various associations, including Dolphin Project, and the two survivors were sent to Germany. The decline and the death of Iris in 2003 were atrocious but ignored and wrongly attributed by the dolphinarium and by a certain press to leukemia due to age.

irisgrilleIris in Antwerp. Already sick. 31 y.o

What they forgot to mention is that several factors drastically reduce the quality of life and the life even of the captives. They know it. But the show must go on. The federal commission for the welfare of the dolphins in Bruges, which has been now working for 3 years, will probably not say anything else when its findings will be made public and approved by the State.

Beachie’s death will not change anything. He will be replaced, like he himself replaced Tex. Others will die again, others will be deported. Children will be taken away from their mothers, separated from them forever. A terrible pain, as dolphins are tied together with an intensity that we cannot even conceive. They suffer from boredom, and of course from the lack of space and occupations, but their body also suffers from the inadequate environment in which they are forced to live: frozen food, food additives, hydrating gels, meds, drugs, vitamins… Chemically salted water enriched with all sorts of substances and filtered by pumps day and night. At last, they suffer also from a nagging hunger that makes them obey and repeat 1000 times the same silly tricks in front of a misinformed public.

noel_bruges_aquashowBeachie will perform Christmas show 2013 when sick

As the head of the “Planète Vie” association, Dr Yvan Beck, veterinarian and co-author, with Y.Godefroid and Gauthier Chapelle, of the book « Freedom for dolphins ! » (to be re-edited) :
“Beachie is only 30. And whatever the leaders of Bruges say, he is a young adult, as wild dolphins in natural conditions reach 50 years. So how can you explain that dolphins protected from their predators and from the pollution systematically die (with rare exceptions) before the age of 30 ? And, if Beachie is a “very” old dolphin… this is only true for captive dolphins…”

Beachie sky

Who cares?

The Boudewijn Seapark is a business indispensable to employment in the region. It benefits also from political supports. The whole case is tricky. Bruges is a Flemish town, and Christian, while Ms Laurette Onkelinx, the Minister in charge, is French speaking and socialist. So the leaders of the park seem to still have a bright future ahead of them, at least as long as this ultra-capitalist logic will prevail.

6th of November 2013: one anonymous person who just talked with someone at the dolphinarium has declared that Beachie was still sick but still had to take part to the shows, under very strong medication. If everything goes according to plan, he should also be joining the big Christmas show. And, according to another trainer in Bruges: “Anyway we still have enough dolphins”.


Life of Beachie

La vie de Beachie, reproducteur

Il faut fermer le delphinarium de Bruges

One of the things that Beachie had the greatest difficult to « learn » in Bruges when he arrived of Harderwijk (and before that of SeaWorld, and before that of the sea) it is to stand « at the foot » his trainer, stationary, while the other performed and were receiving fish for their work. A technique of training specific to the Boudewijn Seapark which lack of space and must manage 6 dolphins in front in a single basin during the show. See the Dolphin on the right, open mouth, begging: hunger is a constant in all the dolphinariums.
(YG/Annelies Mullens)

French article translated by Christelle Bornauw

Life of Beachie

La vie de Beachie, reproducteur

Il faut fermer le delphinarium de Bruges

Bite Back et le delphinarium

Pétitions FR/NL

bruges-demo-2012-aquatic-jailBeachie home

Le Delphinarium de Bruges face à Bite Back

bite-back-bruges1Bite Back devant le Boudewijn Seapark

Une cinquantaine d’activistes de Bite back, une organisation de défense des droits des animaux, ont mené samedi une action à l’entrée du parc d’attractions Boudewijn Seapark de Bruges afin de dénoncer la captivité des dauphins.

« Nous ne voulons rien de moins que la fermeture » du parc, ont-ils fait savoir.
Les activistes ont distribué des tracts aux visiteurs pour les informer des conséquences qu’ont pour les dauphins la vie en captivité et la participation quotidienne à des spectacles aquatiques.

« Le dressage et les conditions de vie des dauphins les détraquent: en captivité, ils souffrent de maladies de la peau et de stress, deviennent fous et cela finit par mener à des actes d’auto-mutilation et à des comportements qui ne sont pas naturels », dénonce l’organisation. D’autres actions suivront bientôt, annonce Bite Back, qui a notamment reçu le soutien des ONG Sea Shepherd, qui a pour but la défense internationale des océans et de la vie marine, et Dauphins Libres, qui milite pour une Belgique sans delphinarium.

bite-back-presseLa delphine Roxanne et son dernier bébé

On notera d’abord avec étonnement que cette dépêche est illustrée par la photo de Roxanne et de son petit BS-TT-B1201, mort 4 jours après sa naissance, le 3 septembre 2012. Soit 3 enfants morts entre 2011 et 2012 pour cette malheureuse capturée en mer, et tant d’autres avant eux.

En bassin, les delphines sont comme des vaches reproductrices. On les insémine de la même manière. La loi l’autorise puisqu’elle concède aux delphinariums le statut de zoo et leur impose dès lors d’assurer la reproduction d’une espèce en danger en vue de sa sauvegarde et de son réintroduction. Le dauphin Tursiops truncatus n’est pourtant pas une espèce prioritaire selon l’IUCN et aucun né captif n’est jamais remis en mer. Quant aux recherches menées par Bruges, c’est de la plaisanterie.

BITE BACK est une courageuse association de défense animale qui opère principalement en Flandres et aux Pays Bas.
Elle a récemment menée une action au Dolfinarium de Hardewijk mais participait déjà à la grande manifestation de juillet 2004 devant celui de Bruges. Elle vient de lancer un site : assorti d’une pétition.
Rappelons qu’il existe une seconde pétition en langue française sur Avaaz, adressée à Mme Laurette Onkelinx.

Il s’agit ici d’en finir avec les atermoiements de nos responsables politiques.  Depuis plus de 3 ans, une commission fédérale relative au bien-être des dauphins de Bruges discute en effet sur le fait de savoir si des cétacés enfermés toute leur vie sous un dôme obscure dans de petites piscines pleines d’eau chlorée, sont heureux.   

Octobre, c’est la morte saison qui commence. Très peu de visiteurs, des jeunes parents et leurs gosses à l’arrière, franchissant la grille du delphinarium entre une haie de manifestants. Pour nos dauphins physiquement adaptés au climat de la Floride ou des Caraïbes, une salle sombre et glacée, l’ennui atroce, les piscines vides aux murs nus parcourue sans fin, comme on marche dans sa cellule.
Comment Puck a-t-elle pu tenir si longtemps ? Et Roxanne ?
Beachie, lui, ne va pas bien. Le ciel et le vent marin du lagon de Hardewijk lui manque. Il respire mal. On le gave d’antibiotiques, avant et après le spectacle.
Yotta, qui faillit récemment mourir lorsque son bébé resta coincé mort dans son ventre, ne serait pas non plus au mieux de sa forme, selon certaines rumeurs. Et quant au Boudewijn Seapark lui-même, ce se serait encore pire.

aspro-ocio-palmitosAspro Ocio opère dans 8 pays d’Europe.

Aspro Ocio, la compagnie espagnole qui détient l’entreprise semble vouloir quitter le navire et lâcher cette attraction peu rentable et peu inventive. Qui la reprendra ?
Popsaland ? Le Studio 100 ? Pairi Daiza ? La tentation serait grande d’y investir alors des améliorations majeures dans l’environnement des dauphins, sous les applaudissements d’une foule qui voit déjà en ce zoo géant le sauveur des éléphants de cirques. Mais nous savons de source sûre que son directeur, M. Eric Domb, est un gestionnaire de parc animalier de la nouvelle génération. Il sait que son public est désormais très sensible au bien-être animal et se refuse donc à héberger des dauphins captifs.

delphinarium-de-bruges-en-ruinesLe bassin des otaries fuit : c’est la misère partout dans le parc

Popsaland est également un repreneur possible

Une loi récente, dont on attend les arrêtés d’application, interdit tout animal sauvage dans les cirques en Belgique. Un travail de fond mené par GAIA depuis bien des années. Cette décision n’est pas sans conséquence.
En effet, si les tigres et les lions (pourtant tous nés en captivité) ou bien les éléphants (le plus souvent capturés), ne peuvent plus être exhibés au public pour exécuter des tours, on se demande pourquoi les dauphins pourraient encore l’être.
3 des 6 prisonniers de Bruges sont nés dans le Golfe du Mexique. Les 3 autres sont nés sous le dôme obscure, zombies malades et dépressifs qui jamais de toute leur vie n’ont vu voler une mouette, entendu le ressac, ressenti la douceur du vent et du soleil ou la claque au poitrail des rouleaux que l’on fend.

Au XXième siècle, et alors que l’Inde vient de déclarer le dauphin « personne non-humaine dont la détention seule est une forme de maltraitance », la Belgique ne peut plus tolérer l’existence des delphinariums, quel qu’en soit l’attrait financier. Et il devrait en aller de même pour tous les pays d’Europe.

taiji-tursiops-massacre-17-12-2012Capture à Taiji


Lire aussi :

La vie de Beachie, dauphin reproducteur à Bruges (EN)

La vie de Beachie, dauphin reproducteur à Bruges (FR)

Il faut fermer le delphinarium de Bruges

Les 6 dauphins de Bruges

Pour une Europe sans delphinarium !

Bite Back contre les delphinariums

Aspro Ocio veut quitter le navire : les dresseurs sont inquiets

anneliese-and-her-son-Willem-at-BruggePhoto Arnaud Artnow






The life of Beachie, Bruges’ dolphin breeder

November 2013 : Beachie’s dying ?


1. The life of free young males


A pod of dolphins is having fun while racing with a boat in the Gulf of Florida.
These dolphins are Tursiops truncatus with large fins, or Atlantic Bottlenose, perfectly adapted to coastal life, shallow waters and warm climate. And this is also the reason why our European dolphinaria likes them so much : they are incredibly resilient and able to survive in absurdly small pools disinfected with chlorine.

Here, we see a Trio. An alliance at the first degree, a gang of 3 happy friends who are swimming kilometers and kilometers every day to seduce pretty females of the neighborood. They will stick together for a while, sometimes for their whole life.

Watch the video. First, one dolphin is taking the initiative and jumps out of the water in a very powerful and harmonious way. Quickly, his friends will join him and challenge him : « I bet we can catch up with that boat there ! ». Their jumps are full of joy, innocence, friendship and laughter.

« The relationship between these “male alliance partners” — bromances, if you will — could last decades or even a lifetime: the friends will spend almost 100 percent of their time together and will often surface side by side in synchronicity. Most of the dolphins leaping and rolling and showing off in front of the boat were playful males, about 9 to 10 years old, just about the age of sexual maturity. Their play, which sometimes includes sex with each other, helps them determine who they’ll choose to be their useful, dependable ally for the next few decades. “It’s a big decision on their part,” Gibson said. “They want to make sure they choose wisely.” UNF’s researchers have identified 14 alliances among male dolphins in the St. Johns. Twelve are pairs, one is a trio, the other is a quartet: Osceola, Choctaw, Timucuan and Geronimo, who are almost always together. A few more alliances could be forming among the youngsters who played around the UNF boat (…) .
Different types of alliances are created amongst the males as they compete to attract the females. These alliances are not confined to one given territory, as it is the case with other social mammals, but, at the contrary, they move over large areas that overlap ».
University of Florida research


2 or 3 dolphins will form a first alliance, very strong over the long term.
These pairs or trios will in turn form a second alliance with other similar groups of 2 or 3 males within a larger group of 4 to 14 individuals, who have no family bounds between them.
This second level group will cooperate to defend its own females or to attack other groups and steal their women. Such alliances can last more than 15 years.

Finally, this « super-group » will be able to form a coalition of several groups of the same type, always to face their rivals organised like them. So we will have an alliance « A » combined with an alliance « B » to attack an alliance « C » on certain occasions, but that will be able to ally also to C to attack an alliance « D » at another moment. And then, it really becomes very complicated. (Richard Connor)

dolphinsocialnetAlliances of the third kind


Florida dolphins also have a « fission-fusion » social structure, characterised by temporary associations, lasting a few minutes to several hours. These models of flexible grouping, in which dolphins are constantly associating differently, imply that they must be able to find each other, when they are separated by long distances. However, these distances must be within reach of communications – they must still be able to communicate.The decision of a dolphin to join or leave a group is linked to various social considerations, such as the class of the individuals in the group (mothers with their babies, single adult females, adult males and young ones). Every dolphin evolves in different social environments.

The decision is also influenced by the ecological characteristics of their habitat. For example, mothers with children prefer to reside regularly in deep waters. They develop relationships with other females in the same situation and associate with them. The same mothers, when they come to swim in shallow waters, will meet young males with whom they will have little contact.

Bottlenose dolphin catching leaping striped mullet

2. The life of a captive young male

Beachie as a merchandise at Bruges dolphinarium

In Bruges, Beachie is sleeping on the bottom of the pool. He’s not healthy. He feels alone.
Born free in 1982, « saved » from a stranding in April 1984, he was sent to SeaWorld Orlando on the 27th of April 1984. He left this place on the 8th of June 1997 to be deported to the Harderwijk Dolphinarium, in the Netherlands.
On the 18th of September 2009, he was finally sent to Bruges. Beachie had been a good stallion before the Boudewijn Seapark. In SeaWorld and Harderwijk, he gave birth to Marble (1997), Sal’ka (1998), T’lisala (2001), Amtan (2001), Palawas (2004), Spetter (2005) and Kite (2005). But once in Belgium, he only gave a stillborn child to the young Yotta in 2010, twins (also stillborn) to the older Roxanne in 2011, and another baby who died after 4 days to Roxanne again. His largely degraded life environment probably explains these events.


Roxanne and her baby, who died after 4 days

So, in 2009, Beachie was brought to the Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges, in the context of an international breeding program (EEP – European Endangered Species Program). Please note that these programs are supposed to ensure the safeguard of an endangered species « ex situ », like for example the golden lion tamarins, the love panthers, the Sumatran elephants, or the okapis, not to mention local but less spectacular endangered species.

okapi-congo (2)

According to the IUCN, Tursiops truncatus is not a highly endangered species. Tursiops are never rehabilitated by the dolphinaria. So dolphinaria do betray the spirit of these European programs. Inadequate education and unnecessary researches couldn’t legally justify the breeding of captive dolphins, since they do not contribute at all to the conservation of the species.

Only females and young dolphins had lived in Bruges since Tex died. That made the arrival of a male necessary for this breeding program for what we can call « circus animals ». Note that neither Beachie nor the residents of the Flemish aquatic circus had chosen to meet. The group would have to, once again, be reshaped by the hand of man.


One week before Beachie arrived, expert trainers of the Boudewijn Seapark went to Harderwijk to see how Beachie was working, what tricks he could be asked and how he had been prepared to take part to the medical tests.
In the morning of the 19th of September 2009, the dolphin was moved to Bruges in the company of 5 employees of Harderwijk and his new masters. Beachie was carried in a hammock, suspended in a box. He arrived in Bruges in the afternoon, to be immediately put in a tank behind the dolphinarium. For the entire first week after his moving, a trainer from Harderwijk stayed in Bruges to help with Beachie’s integration within the group and to advise the team of Bruges.


The residents. Flo died in 2010, at 13 y.0
Photo Adriaan van Rijswijk

For the first 4 days, Beachie stayed in the tank at the bottom, separated from the group by a simple net. This enabled him to hear and see his new cellmates. Then the male was introduced to the 5 residents. At first, he came into contact with Roxanne, one of the three adult females, while the others stayed separated from him in the pool used for the show.

dolphinbay-food1Photo Hurricane Warrior


Today, Beachie is getting along with the senior females (the « high-ranking » females), Roxanne, Yotta and Puck. Young Indy and Ocean – 10 years already ! – are afraid of him. The dominance in a tank is complete, as there is no means of escape, and no possibility to create alliances.Compared to what Beachie has known in his open-air lagoon in Harderwijk, the tank in Bruges is not very big. It is 3-6 meters deep and 40 meters long. On the right and on the left of the tank, there are 2 isolation pens. And behind the scene, there is another pool, larger, but 4 meters deep. This pool was originally intended to sea lions. They go back there during the winter. During the summer, they stay at the « Sea lions Theater ».

Beachie isolated in the back basin.
Photo Adriaan van Rijswijk

Beachie also had to learn to obey a different way.
In Harderwijk, all the dolphins were getting the attention of the trainers at the same time. In Bruges, they must remain calm in front of the trainer until they receive, one at a time, instructions. For Beachie, at the start, it was hard to wait his turn. He was often jumping out of the water, very excited, and had trouble staying calm. He’s been tamed.
For the show, he has been asked first to show all the tricks he had learnt in Harderwijk. Then, he has learnt to throw balls at children and to do somersaults. This training had already begun in Harderwijk, but it couldn’t be completed there. One wonders what he has learnt in SeaWorld, during all that time after his « rescue »

Beachie’s training

Photo Adriaan van Rijswijk

For Beachie, many things have changed. He has long lived in the Dolfijndomijn, in Harderwijk, among a group of other males. They had not chosen to be together either, but at least they were all males. At the Boudewijn Seapark, our stallion is now sharing a really small space with 3 young dolphins – including a skinny male – and 2 females older than him. In addition, Beachie no longer has the possibility to go out in the open air, or to feel the sun on his skin, in a sea where fish can survive. The dolphinarium in Bruges is completely covered by a dome. Its waters are entirely artificial.

Beachie is not healthy. Like so many captive dolphins, he sleeps on the bottom of his basin during hours. He is so alone ! No alliances, no friends, no travels. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Just shows and sleep, sleep and shows.
That’s not a male dolphin life.


Is it even necessary to conclude ? Is the simple detail of these two life styles not enough to condemn a business that should no longer exist in Europe or anywhere in the world : exhibition of captive dolphins ?

Beachie alone
Photo Adriaan van Rijswijk

To know more :

Thanks to Christelle Bornauw Waiengnier for the translation.
– Information about Beachie’s was taken from an interview of the chief trainer of Bruges, Sander van der Heul, published on a now securised (after my first visit !)  professional website ruled by Harderwijk Dolphinarium.


– Please note the swimming Trio shown on the top of this page are part of the family of the 2 golden geese of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Winter and Hope. These new inmates are claimed to have been saved from stranding. It’s the new way to get captive dolphins in the USA. All stranded dolphins are supposed to be deaf.
Let’s remind that for more than 2 decades, Gulf of Mexico was the focus of a live-capture fishery for Bottlenose dolphins which supplied dolphins to the U.S. Navy and European dolphinaria. « During the period between 1972-89, 490 bottlenose dolphins, an average of 29 dolphins annually, were removed from a few locations in the Gulf of Mexico, including the Florida Keys. Mississippi Sound sustained the highest level of removals and 202 dolphins were removed from this stock during this period, representing 41% of the total and an annual average of 12 dolphins. It may be biologically significant that 73% of the dolphins removed during 1982-88 were females. The impact of those removals on the stocks is unknown ». (NOAA)


No more dolphinaria in Europe

Bruges : in the water with our dolphins ! (Videos)

Bruges dolfinarium must be closed

Harderwijk Dolfinarium



Ric O’Barry Report
Save Japan Dolphins Report
WDC Report
La Dolphin Connection Report

European demonstration against dolphinaria occured in Brussels on June 28th 2013
The event is historic. About 350 friends of the dolphins gathered this Friday 28th of June in Brussels, in front of the federal public service of Public Health, to demand the total ban of dolphinaria all across Europe.

Lead by the artist Maria Heidemann (on stilts), they demanded in several languages a radical change in the EC Directive 1999/22 (Council of Europe), for it to ban permanently dolphinaria – just like India did, but also Chile, Brazil, Slovenia, Cyprus and Croatia.

demo28-ric-yvon3… Ric and Yvon
demo28-hester Hester Bartels (Orka Coalitie)
demo28-dolphin-connectionLa Dolphin Connection (France)

While demonstrators continued to chant their slogans in front of the building, Ric O’Barry, former trainer of Flipper and lead actor of the documentary « The Cove,« , Annelies Mullens, co-organizer of the demonstration (who came with her youngest son), and Yvon Godefroid, activist responsible for the event, met Dr Eric Dr Van Tilburgh, Head of the Animal Welfare division of the federal public service.

demo28-yvon-ric-filsRic is joking inside the Ministry. Yvon tries not to laugh.
Willem, the youngest son of Annelies, is quite proud to be there !

The dialogue was cordial, though firm and uncompromising, and lasted about an hour. The focus was put almost straight away on several illegal practices of the Boudewijn Seapark. These practices are mentioned in 2 reports of the highest scientific rigor, namely the « Born Free » report on Belgian zoos and the WDCS Europe Dolphinaria Report.  You can also find a summary of those in French with pictures on this page.

demo28-greece-valiaValia from Greece ! 

Dr Van Tilburgh was also strongly reminded that the Boudewijn Seapark operates currently without any license.
The license hasn’t been renewed. Why does the government not react to this situation? Will this license eventually be renewed? Is there no risk in terms of insurance? Many people living near the park have been complaining about the noise during the Sunday shows. We can then easily imagine the dolphins’ suffering, especially knowing their hearing is extremely sensitive.


Amongst the park’s attractions that are causing problems on a strictly legal point of view, let’s talk about the direct contact with the animals, which is forbidden in every Belgian zoo. However, Boudewijn Seapark allows you, for quite a substantial amount of money, to « meet » dolphins. During these activities, people are allowed to go into the water and touch the dolphins. That might be entertaining, but it is also quite risky : brucellosis and herpes can occur, and there is also a risk of aggression. It happened recently in the United States, where a little girl got savagely bitten by a dolphin…


Even more dangerous and illegal are the (paying) photo sessions with sea lions of Patagonia, whose enormous mouth could tear off a child’s face in one bite. Vultures and other birds of prey landing on kids’ nape were also mentioned, birds that are here attached by a leash and subject to unacceptable conditions of life. Conditions that some zoos, for example in the United Kingdom, do not tolerate anymore…

bruges-vautourVultur’s baby let in the sun without water

We then reminded Mr Van Tilburgh the park’s numerous breaches on its European obligations.
These breaches include the lack of relevant information about the social life of free dolphins ; the anthropomorphic nature of the shows ; the predictable failure of breeding programs in captivity ; the very low viability of captive cetaceans ; the numerous foolish attempts to have a self-sufficient herd of « pet dolphins » (so fresh blood coming from the ocean wouldn’t be needed) ; the unability to put back into the wild young dolphins born in captivity, even though one of the zoo’s missions is to repopulate the endangered habitats ; and the obsolete and repetitive nature of researches that do not care at all about the species (studying the pregnancy of captive dolphins for example, or studying the so-called healing power of the dolphins)…

In short, as highlighted in the 2011 report of the WDCS, keeping dolphins in captivity already violates the EC Directive 1999/22 and the national laws that are linked to it.
° Captivity is supposed to encourage the conservation of endangered species. However, the survival rate of cetaceans in captivity is lower, and so is the birth rate.
° It is supposed to promote education about cetaceans, but very little information is given during those shows about the complex social life of dolphins.
° It is supposed to prevent cruelty towards animals and support their welfare, but stress and abnormal behaviors have been observed amongst the captive dolphins of 15 countries of the EU – countries that have proven to be unable to enforce the existing legislation.

Ric O’Barry also reminded Mr Van Tilburgh that, if reptiles in zoos could at least enjoy a branch to climb, or a shelter, basically something that remind them of their natural environment, the situation is totally different for the dolphins. They are forced to live in an empty concrete pool. Can we imagine a chimpanzee or a gorilla in an empty cell ?

DSCN0152Bruges dolphin Beachie, captured in the wild

To conclude, we have asked the government to make an ethically courageous decision, and to prohibit from now on all breeding programs in captivity, all import of new dolphins, all opening of new dolphinaria, and that, gradually, an end can be put to all the activities of the Boudewijn Seapark.

More globally, Ric O’Barry insisted that Belgium, seat of most of the European institutions, had the chance now to lead by example in front of the 15 countries that still have aquatic circuses in the EU.

Mr Van Tilburgh has committed to convey our requests to the Minister in charge, Ms Laurette Onkelinx, reminding us also that a special commission would soon communicate its conclusions about the standards of the Boudewijn Seapark dolphinarium. Our answer to that was that, no matter what the conclusions are, the voice of the Belgian citizens would prevail. No prison can be improved to the point of making it better for the cetaceans to be captive than to be free.

It is obvious that, in the wake of this first European event, other actions will take place in Belgium, but also in other European cities. And, concerning the petition « All dolphinaria must be closed in Europe« , even if its value is symbolic, it has to keep being shared and signed !

It is a tough fight, because we are dealing with a huge leisure industry, that has important financial resources, and that is able to influence anyone. But it is a fair fight, not only for dolphins, but also for the future of our children, for the future of humanity. Our dignity as human beings is at stake in this fight. And we will win it !

demo28-sacha2My grand-son Sacha Godefroid and his Daddy
probably the youngest demonstrator…

We wish to thank (knowing that it’s impossible to thank everyone) :
First, Ric O’Barry of course, and Annelies Mullens
The Dolphin Connection
Hester Bartels (Orka Coalitie)
Mylou for her pictures of Bruges and her unwavering support
Denis and the others for the security aspects
The local police for their efficiency & their kindness
All of you, who helped from their own countries, sending messages and tweet-stream, or came from far just, full of love for dolphins !
See you next year !! 



References :

demo28-children-ric  New generation around Ric

Images and videos
« June 28th Brussels : the Movie » !,










Manifestation pour une Europe sans delphinarium


Ric O’Barry Report
Save Japan Dolphins Report
WDC Report
La Dolphin Connection Report

L’événement est historique.
Près de 350 amis des dauphins se sont rassemblées ce vendredi 28 juin de 15 à 18 heures place Victor Horta à Bruxelles, devant la façade du SPF Santé Publique, pour réclamer l’interdiction totale des delphinariums dans l’ensemble de l’Union Européenne.


demo28-ric-yvon3… Ric et Yvon, les 3 piliers de la manifestation. 

«Liberté pour les dauphins!» «La captivité, c’est l’esclavage !», « Libérez Morgan ! »
Pendant plus de 3 heures, ces manifestants venus de l’Europe entière (Grèce, Italie, Allemagne, France, Pays-Bas, Croatie, Slovénie, Suisse, etc.) ont tourné en rond sur la place, comme le font les dauphins dans leur bassin.
Menée par l’artiste sur échasses Maria Heideman, ils ont réclamé en plusieurs langues une modification radicale de la Directive 1999/22/CE du Conseil de l’Europe,  afin que celle-ci interdise définitivement toute exploitation de dauphins de cirque, à l’instar de nombreux pays comme l’Inde, le Chili, le Brésil, la Slovénie, Chypres ou la Croatie.


Pendant que les manifestants continuaient à scander des slogans devant les portes du Ministère de la Santé Publique, Ric O’Barry, ex-dresseur de Flipper et acteur principal du documentaire «The Cove», Annelise Mullens, co-organisatrice de la manifestation, accompagnée de son plus jeune fils et Yvon Godefroid, activiste responsable de l’événement, ont été reçu par le Dr Eric Dr Van Tilburgh, responsable du SPF Santé publique pour les zoos et delphinarium belges.

demo28-yvon-ric-filsDans les couloirs du Ministère (photo Annelies)
Ric fait une blague, Yvon tente de pas rire et
Willem, le fils d’Annelies est tout fier d’être là !

L’entretien fut cordial, quoique ferme et sans concessions, et dura près d’1 heure.
L’accent fut aussitôt mis sur plusieurs pratiques illégales du Boudewijn Seapark tant au regard de la loi belge que de la Directive européenne sur les zoos. Ces dernières sont citées dans 2 rapports de la plus haute rigueur scientifique, à savoir celui de Born Free sur les zoos belges et celui de la WDC sur les delphinariums. On les trouve également résumées en français sur les pages :
Delphinarium de Bruges : illégal ?
Il faut fermer le delphinarium de Bruges


Il fut vivement rappelé au Dr Van Tilburgh que le delphinarium de Bruges opérait aujourd’hui sans licence.
Celle-ci n’a pas été renouvelée en été. Pourquoi le gouvernement ne réagit-il pas à cette situation ? Cette autorisation sera-t-elle reconduite ? N’y a-t-il pas de risques au niveau des assurances ? De nombreux riverains proches du parc se plaignent en effet du bruit causé par les shows dominicaux. On imagine ce qu’endurent les dauphins, dont l’ouïe est extrêmement sensible.


Parmi les attractions du parc qui posent problème au niveau strictement juridique, citons notamment le contact direct avec les animaux, interdit par la loi belge dans tous les zoos, à l’exception des animaux de ferme livrés aux enfants.
Or, le Boudewijn Seapark vend désormais pour des sommes conséquentes des rencontres du type : Meet our dolphins, durant lesquelles le public est autorisé à descendre dans l’eau en combinaison d’égoutier et de toucher les dauphins. Ce qui les distrait sans doute un peu, mais présente plusieurs risques : la transmission de la brucellose ou de l’herpès peut survenir dans les deux sens et les risques inopinés d’agression ne sont pas nuls. Il s’en est produit un récemment aux Etats-Unis, où une petite fille fut sauvagement mordue par un dauphin fou.


Plus dangereuses et illégales encore sont les séances photos (payantes) avec les otaries de Patagonie, dont la gueule énorme pourrait emporter le visage d’un enfant d’une bouchée. On parla aussi des vautours et autres oiseaux de proie se posant sur la nuque de gosses, et que l’on retrouve entravé par une laisse à la patte et soumis à des conditions de vie que les zoos du Royaume-Uni, par exemple, ne tolèrent plus depuis longtemps.


Nous avons rappelé ensuite à M. Van Tilburg les différents manquements du Boudewijn Seapark quant à ses obligations européennes.
Citons notamment l’absence d’informations pertinentes sur la vie sociale des dauphins libres, le caractère anthropomorphique des shows, l’échec annoncé de la reproduction en bassin, la faible viabilité des sujets captifs, les tentatives insensées d’obtenir un cheptel de dauphins « domestiques » autosuffisant sans apport de sang frais venu de l’océan, l’impossibilité de remettre en mer les jeunes nés en bassin alors que le rôle du zoo est de repeupler les biotopes en danger, et le caractère obsolète et répétitifs des prétendues recherches scientifiques qui ne bénéficient pas à l’espèce sauvage (l’étude de la grossesse des delphines captives, notamment, ou le pouvoir curatif des dauphins), etc.


En bref, comme le souligne le rapport 2011 de la WDC, Dolphinaria – A review of the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity in the European Union and EC, relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos,  le fait de détenir des dauphins en bassin viole d’ores et déjà la Directive 1999/22 et les lois nationales découlant d’elles :
* La captivité est sensée encourager la conservation des espèces menacées. Or, le taux de survie des cétacés est inférieur en captivité qu’en milieu naturel et la natalité y est faible ou difficile.
* Elle est supposée promouvoir l’éducation à propos des cétacés alors qu’une très faible quantité d’informations est fournie lors des shows concernant la vie sociale complexe des dauphins en liberté.
* Elle est supposée prévenir la cruauté envers les animaux et sensibiliser à leur bien-être, alors que le stress et les comportements anormaux sont communs chez les dauphins exposés dans l’enceinte des delphinariums de 15 états membres de l’Union européenne, qui se montrent incapables d’appliquer la législation existante en la matière.


M. Ric O’Barry a également rappelé à M. Van Tilburg que si les reptiles du zoo bénéficiaient à tout le moins d’une branche où grimper, d’un abri, de feuillage et de terreau où se lover, c’est-à-dire d’une simulation minimale de leur environnement naturel, il n’en était rien pour les dauphins. Ceux-ci sont contraints de vivre dans un bassin de béton totalement nu.
Imagine-t-on un chimpanzé ou un gorille dans une cellule vide de tout objet ?


Pour conclure, nous avons demandé que le gouvernement belge prenne une décision éthiquement courageuse, en interdisant toute reproduction en bassin, toute importation de nouveaux dauphins, toute nouvelle ouverture de delphinariums et qu’elle mette progressivement fin aux activités du Boudewijn Seapark.
Plus largement, Ric O’Barry a insisté sur le fait que la Belgique, siège des institutions européennes, s’honorerait en agissant de la sorte et qu’elle donnerait ainsi le bon exemple aux 15 pays de l’Union possédant encore des cirques aquatiques.

M. Van Tilburg s’est engagé à transmettre nos revendications à sa Ministre de tutelle, Mme Onkelinx, en rappelant néanmoins qu’une Commission spéciale allait bientôt rendre ses conclusions sur les normes de bien-être au delphinarium de Bruges.

Notre réponse fut que, quelles que soient les conclusions de cette Commission, ce serait la voix de la rue et des citoyens qui prévaudrait en définitive. Et qu’aucune prison aquatique ne pourrait jamais être améliorée au point de pouvoir permettre aux cétacés captifs de s’y épanouir pleinement comme en liberté.

Il va de soi que dans la foulée de cette première manifestation européenne, d’autres actions seront lancées sur le territoire belge aussi bien que dans différentes villes de l’Union Européenne. Quant à la pétition réclamant la fin de tous les delphinariums en Europe, même si sa valeur n’est que symbolique (il en faut plus pour que la Commission européenne nous écoute), elle continuera à s’enrichir de signatures jusqu’à l’infini !

C’est une lutte difficile, car nous sommes face à une industrie du loisir animal qui dispose de moyens financiers inouïs, capables d’influencer n’importe quel pouvoir politique ou organe de presse. Mais c’est un combat juste que nous menons , non seulement en faveur des dauphins mais également pour le futur de nos enfants. Notre dignité d’Homme passe par ce combat-là. Et nous le gagnerons !


Remerciements :
Impossible ici de remercier tous ceux qui nous ont aidé à mettre sur pied ce formidable rassemblement. Il y a d’abord Ric O’Barry, bien sûr, et Annelies, il y a La Dolphin Connection qui a financé le voyage de Ric (le reste des frais ayant été couvert par l’appel de fonds sur Gofundme), il y a Mylou pour ses photos de Bruges et son indéfectible soutien, il y a Denis et les autres pour le service de sécurité, mais afin de ne vexer personne, nous ne citerons donc personne d’autres, car il y aurait tant de noms à citer !
Merci donc à tous et à chacun d’entre vous !
Un petit mot tout de même pour la police de St Gilles, dont l’efficacité et la gentillesse nous ont rendu la tâche plus facile.
Et bien sûr, toute notre admiration à celles et ceux qui ont pris la peine de nous rejoindre à grands frais depuis des pays parfois fort lointains ou qui se sont déchaînés derrière leur ordinateur pour diffuser l’annonce de cette première manifestation historique dans le monde entier.
A titre personnel je ne suis pas peu fier que mon petit-fils Sacha y ait assisté avec ses deux parents. C’était à n’en pas douter le plus jeune des participants du jour  !

demo28-sacha2Sacha Godefroid et son papa

References :

La nouvelle génération

Images et vidéos
« June 28th Brussels : the Movie » !








demo28-hesterHester bartels (Orka Coalitie)


Pour une europe sans delphinarium




Morgan the Lost Orca

Dolphins are self-aware beings.
They bear a name, they reflect, they invent, they talk, they love, they play, they like to live with family and friends in large pods. Dolphins love travelling, splitting the waves, diving deep and hunting together.

Endowed with a powerful brain and living a long time, they educate their children during years, mourn their dead and transmit knowledge and dialect across generations. They use tools and invent new hunting techniques. Their  intelligence is not comparable to that of humans but probably equivalent. Their emotions are same than ours, ranging from the most terrible grief of death, to the greatest joy of freedom. Their social bonds are even much intense than human ones.


We do not have the right to condemn these marine mammals shaped for the ocean to a life of captivity !
We do not have the right to starve them into obedience !
We do not have the right to force them into a life of boredom in chlorinated water dungeons to be fed dead fish !
We do not have the right to force them to perform tricks an antics for our amusement and entertainment !
No pool, no lagoon can replace the prodigious wealth of the natural habitat of the cetacean world. No dolphins, captive born or caught from the wild, can thrive in dignity in a concrete chlorinated pit.



Antibes Marineland

Brazil, India, Croatia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Switzerland and other countries understood the cruelty of cetacean captivity and have prohibited it in their countries.  In contrast, 15 European countries still exhibit dolphins, killer whales, orcas, porpoises and one river dolphin. 15 EU governments support the economic development of these entertainment parks under the guise of wildlife parks, where children are taught that whales are our slaves.


As conscious human beings, respectful of Earth and all its inhabitants, we cannot allow such aquatic circuses to exist in the 21st century.
This is why we ask the EU to organize the closure of all the dolphinaria in all its member states.
This is why we are asking the EU to prohibit any further opening of such institutions.
This is why we ask that the 307 small whales currently held by 34 dolphinaria in Europe, are moved to enclosed marine bays and rehabilitated and returned to sea, if possible.
We are tired of hearing lies.
We do not want more of these innocent beings imprisoned.
Europe : close dolphinaria and protect whales in the wild !


Join us at the Brussels No Captivity Demo in Brussels,  June 28 th !

French version



Demo 2013 : a huge success !


Make the European Union a dolphinarium-free zone

With the support of Ric O’Barry