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.
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.
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.
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 !
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 !
Dix bonnes raisons de ne pas aller dans un delphinarium :
Les dauphins ne jouentpas au ballon !
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…”
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”.
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.
French article translated by Christelle Bornauw
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)
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.
2. The life of a captive young male
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.
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.
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 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 »…
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 ?
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)