For a few hours on June 27th the field under the Atomium in Brussels will be the scene of an impressive protest. Five different animal rights groups will work together that day, to express their displeasure through visual figures like the word FREEDOM and a huge dolphin. Their message will be addressed to the governments of EU Member States that still allow exploitation of dolphinariums.
The European legislation prohibits the commercial use of marine mammals, but makes an exception for scientific or educational purposes. However, campaigners believe that the trapping and conditioning of dolphins affects their behaviour and suppresses their natural instincts, so that they can not contribute to educational purposes anymore. In the wild these animals roam hundreds of kilometres every day and live and hunt in complex close social and family relationships. They are taken away from their natural environment, ripped apart from their family and placed in chlorinated concrete tanks. The hunting instinct is reduced to begging for a dead fish thrown to them after they perform senseless tricks.
In a dolphinarium, the animals are not able to use their echolocation. This unique orientation and hunting system consists of emitting sonar, allowing them to determine the location, distance, shape and density of prey and objects. In a concrete tank their sonar is bounced against the walls like an echo that reverberates in their heads. This leads to serious confusion of the sensory apparatus. Therefore, several dolphinariums use antidepressants to keep the dolphins quiet and active for shows. The protesters believe that it is not possible to study the natural behaviour of dolphins in aquariums, since that behaviour is destroyed.
Europe also requires that the enclosures in zoos are as close as possible to the natural environment of the captive animal. However, recent scientific research has shown that it is impossible to mimic a living environment of the ocean. Nothing can beat the wind, waves, algae and live fish found in the ocean. Nothing can mimic the immense space, movement and pressure of the ocean depths.
Nothing can replace the Dolphins natural instinct to hunt as a team and the distance all marine mammals travel whilst migrating. The infrastructure of the Bruges Boudewijnpark (where four of the seven dolphins were born in the ocean) is totally inadequate to meet the needs of the animals. Their situation is even worse than those in neighbouring countries. Since the pool is indoors, the Dolphins never see daylight and they never breathe fresh air. This lack of essential necessary care is reflected in poor health and laborious reproduction. Since 2003, only one pregnancy has been successfully completed in the Boudewijnpark, and Origi a baby born in 2014 died after only a week. Origi is the 22nd dolphin that has died in Boudewijnpark.
10 European Member States (Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland and Luxembourg) have already banned dolphinariums. These states find that keeping marine mammals in captivity is no longer ethical in this century.
The protest in Brussels was organised for the first time two years ago by Yvon Godefroid of Dauphins Libres and Annelies Mullens, a doctor in the endocrine medicine, assisted by La Dolphin Connection France. In 2014 both Yvon & Annelies were assisted by the animal rights organization BiteBack and La Dolphin Connection, 400 participants from nine different European countries joined them.
This year, with the cooperation of Bite Back, Sea Shepherd Belgium, Blue Shark Conservation, the Dutch Dolphin Motion and animal lover actor Pol Goossen they have the ambition for an even larger number. The initiators of the action welcome anyone with a heart for animals on Saturday, June 27th at 14:00 in the area under the Atomium in Brussels.
For more information about cetaceans in captivity:
A Fall From Freedom trailer:
A Fall From Freedom film (with French subtitles): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7kQYj2MgAY
Contacts Dutch press:
Bite Back Limburg
0474 / 52.73.61 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Responsible Sea Shepherd Belgium / Founder Blue Shark Conservation
0473 / 39.51.30 – email@example.com
Contacts French press:
0473 28 22 98 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dauphins Libres is fighting for an end to dolphinaria in Belgium and all over the world since 1995.
In 1988 Dauphins Libres organised the first demo for the closure of the dolphinarium in Antwerp (Zoo). The organisation investigated the living circumstances of the dolphins in the dolphinarium and published how many dolphins died there. In 1999 the dolphinarium was closed thanks to the efforts of Dauphins Libres and Ric O’Barry.
Dauphins Libres inquires also the living conditions of the dolphins in Boudewijn Seapark, Marineland, Parc Astérix and Planète Sauvage. Dauphins Libres publishes a succesfull website and is member of the French association « La Dolphin Connection”.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an independent organization with the aim of protecting the world’s oceans and marine life. Oceans are being emptied of fish species and these species are threatened with extinction. There are international treaties and agreements to protect nature and the oceans but the plunder continues unabated because no agency monitors compliance with the laws and treaties. Sea Shepherd carries out direct action to enforce the existing regulations.
Bite Back provides information to businesses and consumers and asks them to consume animal friendly products. In addition, they actively promote veganism, animal-free products, animal friendly clothing and entertainment where animals are not being exploited. Because animals have a value, irrespective of their possible usefulness to man.
Blue Shark Conservation is a Belgian unincorporated association dedicated to the protection of the oceans and its inhabitants, through the initiation of specific targeted projects. Depending on its mission Blue Shark often works with national and international non-profit organizations and NGOs, providing agencies with support services during their campaigns, for a sustainable use of marine ecosystem services. In addition, Blue Shark also provides information through publishing articles, giving lectures on the overfishing of sharks and donating photographic material about the underwater world.
Dolphin Motion actively works against the exploitation of cetaceans and was the coordinator of the actions and lawsuits around the struggle for Morgan the orca.
Text : Katrien Vandevelde. Media Responsible Sea Shepherd Belgium/Founder Blue Shark Conservation
Op 27 juni wordt het terrein onder het Atomium te Brussel voor een paar uur het toneel van een een indrukwekkende protestactie. Vijf verschillende dierenrechtenorganisaties werken die dag samen om hun gemeenschappelijke ongenoegen via visuele figuren kenbaar te maken. Hun boodschap is gericht aan de regeringen van Europese lidstaten die het uitbaten van dolfinaria nog steeds toelaten.
De Europese wetgeving verbiedt het commerciële gebruik van zeezoogdieren, maar maakt een uitzondering voor wetenschappelijke of educatieve doeleinden. De actievoerders zijn echter van mening dat het opsluiten en conditioneren van dolfijnen hun gedrag en natuurlijke instincten zodanig beïnvloedt dat ze geen bijdrage meer kunnen leveren in die zin. In de vrije natuur zwerven deze dieren tot honderd kilometer per dag en leven en jagen ze in complexe en hechte sociale familieverbanden. Ze worden van deze natuurlijke leefwereld en hun familie weggerukt en geplaatst in gechloreerde betonnen bassins. Het jachtinstinct wordt gereduceerd tot een bedelen voor dode vis, die ze toegegooid krijgen na het verplicht uitvoeren van zinloze kunstjes.
In een dolfinarium kunnen de dieren bovendien geen gebruik maken van hun echolocatie. Dit unieke oriëntatie- en jachtsysteem bestaat uit het uitstoten van sonargolven. Het laat hen toe de locatie, afstand, vorm en dichtheid van prooien en voorwerpen te bepalen. In een betonnen tank stuitert die sonar echter tegen de muren, als een echo die in hun hoofd blijft nagalmen. Dat leidt tot ernstige verwarring van het zintuigelijke apparaat. Verschillende dolfinaria grijpen daarom naar antidepressiva om hun dolfijnen welwillend en actief te houden voor shows. De actievoerders zijn ervan overtuigd dat het niet mogelijk is om in dolfinaria de essentie van dolfijnen te bestuderen, vermits die essentie er wordt vernietigd.
Europa eist ook dat de verblijven in dierentuinen zoveel mogelijk de natuurlijke omgeving benaderen. Recent wetenschappelijk onderzoek heeft echter aangetoond dat het onmogelijk is om een leefomgeving als de oceaan na te bootsen. Niets kan de wind, de golven, de algen, de vissen, de immense ruimte en de druk van de dieptes nabootsen. Niets kan de jacht in teamverband en de verre reizen die migrerende zeezoogdieren maken, vervangen.
Ook de infrastructuur van het Brugse Boudewijn Seapark – waar vier van de zeven dolfijnen die er huizen in de vrije natuur werden geboren – is volstrekt ontoereikend om in de noden van de dieren te voorzien. Hun situatie is zo mogelijk zelfs nog driester dan die van lotgenoten in de omringende landen. Vermits het bassin overdekt is zien deze dieren immers nooit direct daglicht en ademen ze nooit buitenlucht. Dit gebrek aan noodzakelijke zorg uit zich in een zwakke gezondheid en een moeizame voortplanting. Sinds 2003 werd er slechts één zwangerschap succesvol volbracht in het Boudewijn Seapark en de in 2014 geboren baby Origi bezweek reeds na een week. Origi was de 22ste dolfijn die in het Boudewijnpark overleed.
10 Europese lidstaten (Oostenrijk, Cyprus, Ireland, Tsjechië, Slovakije, Estland, Letland, Hongarije, Polen en Luxemburg) hebben dolfinaria reeds verbannen. Ze vinden dat het houden van zeezoogdieren in gevangenschap niet meer ethisch te verantwoorden is in deze tijd.
Het protest in Brussel werd twee jaar geleden voor het eerst georganiseerd door Yvon Godefroid van Dauphins Libres en Annelies Mullens, een arts in de endocriene geneeskunde. In 2014 brachten ze bijgestaan door de dierenrechtenorganisatie Bite Back, 400 deelnemers uit negen verschillende Europese landen op de been. Dit jaar gaan ze aangesterkt met Sea Shepherd Belgium, BlueShark Conservation, de Nederlandse Dolphinmotion en dierenvriend acteur Pol Goossen voor een nog groter aantal.
De initiatiefnemers van de actie verwelkomen iedereen met een hart voor dieren, op zaterdag 27 juni om 14:00 op het terrein onder het Atomium te Brussel.
Meer informatie rond dolfijnachtigen in gevangenschap:
A Fall From Freedom trailer:
A Fall From Freedom film (met Franstalige ondertiteling): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7kQYj2MgAY
Coördinator Bite Back Limburg en initiatiefneemster van de actie voor sluiting van Europese aquaria
0474/52.73.61 – email@example.com
Oprichter Dauphins Libres en initiatiefnemer van de actie voor sluiting van Europese aquaria
0473/28.22.98 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dauphins Libres strijdt voor de vrijlating van alle walvisachtigen internationaal en voor een dolfinariumvrij België sinds 1995. Dauphins Libres organiseerde in 1998 de allereerste Belgische actie voor de sluiting van het toenmalige dolfinarium in de Antwerpse Zoo. De organisatie onderzocht de omstandigheden in het aquarium en bracht aan het licht hoeveel dolfijnen er reeds gestorven waren. Met de hulp van Ric O’Barry (The Cove) en andere organisaties werd het dolfinarium uiteindelijk verplicht te sluiten. Sindsdien inventariseert en volgt Dauphins Libres de levens en levensomstandigheden van alle dolfijnen in Boudewijn Seapark, Marineland, Parc Astérix en Planète Sauvage. De vereniging voerde ook succesvolle campagnes in Quebec en Mauritius. Daarnaast is ze nog lid van de Franse ‘La Dolphin Connection’ en schrijft artikels voor hen.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is een onafhankelijke organisatie met als doel: wereldwijd beschermen van oceanen en zeeleven. Oceanen worden leeggevist, soorten zijn met uitsterven bedreigd. Er bestaan internationale verdragen en afspraken om natuur en oceanen te beschermen maar de plundering gaat onverminderd door omdat geen enkele instantie het naleven van de wetten en verdragen controleert. Sea Shepherd voert directe actie om de bestaande regelgeving te doen naleven.
Bite Back geeft voorlichting aan bedrijven en consumenten en vraagt hen om diervriendelijk te consumeren. Bovendien promoten wij actief veganisme, diervrije producten, diervriendelijke kleding en amusement waar geen dieren voor worden uitgebuit. Want dieren hebben een waarde op zich, ongeacht hun eventuele nut voor de mens.
BlueShark Conservation is een Belgische feitelijke vereniging die zich inzet voor de bescherming van de oceanen en zijn bewoners via het initiëren van specifiek gerichte projecten. In functie van haar missie werkt BlueShark vaak samen met nationale en internationale non-profitorganisaties en NGO’s en ze verleent deze instanties ondersteunende diensten tijdens hun campagnes voor een duurzaam gebruik van mariene ecosysteemdiensten. Daarnaast geeft BlueShark ook voorlichting via het publiceren van artikels, het verzorgen van lezingen betreffende de overbevissing van haaien en het doneren van fotografisch materiaal over de onderwaterwereld.
Dolphinmotion werkt actief tegen de uitbuiting van dolfijnachtigen en was de coördinator van de acties en rechtzaken rond de strijd om orka Morgan.
Communiqué de presse
Ce samedi 27 Juin, les pelouses de l’Atomium de Bruxelles seront une nouvelle fois le théâtre d’une manifestation impressionnante. 5 groupes de défense des droits des animaux s’uniront pour exprimer leur mécontentement en formant avec leurs corps le mot LIBERTÉ et l’image d’un énorme dauphin.
Leur message s’adresse aux gouvernements des États membres de l’UE qui autorisent encore l’exploitation des delphinariums sur leur territoire.
La législation européenne interdit en principe l’utilisation commerciale des mammifères marins, mais prévoit une exception à des fins scientifiques ou éducatives. Les défenseurs des animaux considèrent cette clause comme un piège, estimant que le confinement des dauphins a une telle incidence sur leur comportement et détruisent à ce point leurs instincts naturels qu’ils ne peuvent contribuer valablement à des fins éducatives ou scientifiques.
En milieu naturel, les dauphins peuvent parcourir plus de 150 km par jour. Ils vivent et chassent au sein de réseaux sociaux complexes et intenses.
Lorsqu’ils sont capturés ou qu’ils naissent dans des cuves en béton remplies d’eau chlorée, leur instinct de chasse se réduit à mendier des poissons morts qu’on leur jette après qu’ils aient exécuté des tours insensés. Cette vie monotone dans un espace clos affecte la santé mentale et physique des cétacés captifs.
Plusieurs delphinariums (à Nuremberg, notamment) ont donc recours à des tranquillisants et à des antidépresseurs pour garder leurs dauphins calmes et actifs pendant les spectacles.
L’Europe exige que les installations des zoos reproduisent aussi étroitement que possible l’environnement naturel des animaux captifs. Mais il est impossible de reproduire, même de loin, un milieu de vie tel que l’océan. Rien ne peut remplacer le vent, les vagues, les algues, les poissons ou imiter l’espace immense et la pression des profondeurs. Rien ne peut remplacer la chasse en groupe ni les lointains voyages que ces mammifères marins migrateurs effectuent.
L’infrastructure du Boudewijn Seapark à Bruges – dont 4 dauphins sur 7 sont nés en mer – est totalement insuffisante pour répondre aux besoins de ces animaux. Leur situation est encore pire que dans les pays voisins. Dans leur piscine sous dôme, ils ne voient jamais la lumière du jour et ils ne peuvent respirer l’air frais. Ce manque de soins essentiels se manifeste par une mauvaise santé et une reproduction laborieuse. Depuis 2003, une seule grossesse a été menée avec succès au Boudewijn SeaPark. Né en 2014, Origi est mort après seulement une semaine. C’était le 22ième dauphin à mourir au delphinarium de Bruges.
En France, où le Marineland d’Antibes dispose pourtant de bassins à ciel ouvert bien plus vastes que ceux de Bruges, l’orque Freya vient de mourir d’une longue maladie à l’âge de 33 ans, après 4 fausses-couches et un seul enfant viable.
A l’inverse, en Colombie britannique, l’orque Granny (J2) est âgée de 104 ans. Elle guide toujours ses enfants et ses petits-enfants à travers l’océan, de la Californie jusqu’au Canada, et peut encore couvrir 1.300 kilomètres en une semaine.
10 Etats membres de l’Union Européenne (Autriche, Chypre, l’Irlande, la République tchèque, la Slovaquie, l’Estonie, la Lettonie, la Hongrie, la Pologne et le Luxembourg) ont déjà interdit les delphinariums. Ces pays estiment que le maintien de mammifères marins en captivité est désormais contraire à l’éthique du XXième siècle.
La première manifestation pour une Europe sans delphinariums a été organisée à Bruxelles en 2013 par Annelies Mullens, médecin endocrinologue et par Yvon Godefroid (Dauphins Libres), avec l’aide de La Dolphin Connection.
En 2014, ils ont également été aidés par l’organisation de défense des droits des animaux Bite Back. 400 participants venus de 9 pays européens se sont alors joints à cette manifestation.
Cette année, avec la coopération de Bite Back, Sea Shepherd Belgique, Blue Shark Conservation, Dolphin Motion (Pays-Bas) et l’acteur Pol Goossen, un grand ami des animaux, un nombre encore plus important de manifestants est attendu.
Les initiateurs de cette action accueillent toute personne ayant un coeur pour les animaux, le samedi 27 Juin à 14h00 sous l’Atomium à Bruxelles.
Plus d’informations sur les cétacés en captivité:
A Fall from Freedom (sous-titres : La Dolphin Connection)
Contacts presse néerlandaise:
Bite Back Limburg
0474 / 52.73.61 – email@example.com
Responsable média pour Sea Shepherd Belgique / Fondateur de Blue Shark
0473 / 39.51.30 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts presse francophone :
0473 28 22 98 – email@example.com
Lire aussi : Il faut fermer tous les delphinariums d’Europe
Dauphins Libres lutte pour une Belgique sans delphinarium et contre la captivité des cétacés dans le monde depuis 1995. Il a notamment contribué à la fermeture du delphinarium du Zoo d’Anvers en 1999.
Bite Back fournit des informations aux entreprises et aux consommateurs et leur demande de consommer respectueusement les animaux. En outre, Bite Back encourage activement le végétalisme ainsi que l’usage de produits sans animaux, les vêtements et les divertissements conviviaux où les animaux ne sont pas exploités. Parce que les animaux ont une valeur en soi, indépendamment de leur utilité possible pour l’homme.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society est une organisation indépendante dont le but est de protéger les océans de la planète et la vie marine. Les océans sont vidés de leurs poissons et les espèces marines sont menacées d’extinction. Il existe des traités et accords internationaux pour protéger la nature et les océans, mais le pillage se poursuit sans relâche, car aucune agence ne surveille l’application des lois et traités. Sea Shepherd mène une action directe pour faire respecter les règlements existants.
Blue Shark Conservation est une association non constituée en société belge dédié à la protection des océans et de ses habitants à travers le lancement de projets spécifiques ciblés. En fonction de ses missions, Blue Shark travaille souvent avec des organisations et des ONG à but non lucratif nationaux et internationaux, et leur fournit les services pour une utilisation durable de l’écosystème marin. En outre Blue Shark fournit également des informations par le biais de publication d’articles, de conférences sur la surpêche des requins et de don de matériel photographique sur le monde sous-marin.
Dolphin Motion travaille activement contre l’exploitation des cétacés et a été le coordinateur des actions et des poursuites judiciaires lors de la lutte pour l’orque Morgan.
D’après le texte de Katrien Vandevelde. Media Responsible Sea Shepherd Belgium/Founder Blue Shark Conservation
A l’heure où le Mundial sature tous les médias, rappelons que les humains ne sont pas les seuls à jouer au ballon.
Des dauphins le font aussi, 2 ou 3 fois par jour, sous la contrainte de la faim et du dressage, lors de shows de cirque obscènes.
Rien qu’en Europe, dans 15 pays de l’Union, 34 delphinariums enferment plus de 300 petits cétacés, orques, dauphins, bélugas et marsouins. Ces mammifères marins nés pour l’océan libre alimentent une industrie du loisir formidablement lucrative.
Afin d’exiger de l’Union Européenne qu’elle mette fin aux delphinariums, une manifestation spectaculaire se tiendra au pied de l’Atomium le 28 juin 2014 à 14heures.
Ric O’Barry, ex-dresseur de dauphin Flipper et acteur principal du film «The Cove» sera présent en Belgique à cette occasion.
Photo 1 :
En mer, aucun dauphin ne joue au ballon. Pourquoi montrer cela aux enfants ?
Ici, à Duisburg. Ivo, le joueur de foot, a été capturé en mer. Il a survécu à l’enfer du delphinarium d’Anvers avant d’échouer en Allemagne.
Photo 2 :
Le delphinarium de Bruges est contraint par un avis de la Commission du Bien-être Animal d’élargir ses installations et de renforcer l’enrichissement environnemental de ses captifs. Au lieu de quoi, il acquiert aussitôt deux nouveaux dauphins et laisse mourir le vieux Beachie, malade des poumons et à moitié fou.
Photo 3 :
Cette orque du Marineland d’Antibes a les dents brisées à force de ronger les barreaux de sa cage. Il s’agit de Wikie, la mère de Moana (née par insémination artificielle) et de Keijo (né de l’inceste).
A propos de la manifestation de 2013 :
On the 28th of June 2014, an important demonstration will take place in Brussels to demand the closure of all the dolphinaria in Europe.
This event will bring together hundreds of dolphin defenders from all around the world. They will meet at the Atomium around Ric O’Barry, the former trainer of Flipper and main actor of « The Cove », and they will demand – like last year – to urgently stop the slavery of cetaceans in Europe.
Currently, 15 countries within the EU are housing 34 dolphinaria, places that exhibit more than 300 small cetaceans, orcas, belugas, dolphins and porpoises. These places are selling circus shows to children, photo or contact sessions, therapies or «swimming with dolphins» sessions.
Annex A of the Directive No.338/97 of the European Council normally prohibits any commercial use of these marine mammals. But an exception exists in the text, an exception which allows their importation for scientific, educational or conservation purposes. This article should be suppressed, as dolphinaria do not contribute at all to science, education or protection of the species. EC Directive 1999/22 also requires – for all the animals in zoos – an environment that is as close as possible to the conditions of life in their natural environment.
The most recent scientific research tells us that it is strictly impossible to give those cetaceans the exact same life than the one they have in the ocean. Nothing can imitate the wind, the waves, the algae, the fish, the space or the pressure in the depths. Nothing can replace the joy to be hunting together and to travel far.
To keep these lucrative attractions in Europe these days encourages the emerging countries (China, Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand) to open hundreds of new aquatic prisons and to increase the catches in Japan, Russia, Cuba, Mexico or the Solomon Islands.
In the US, the film «Blackfish» is shaking SeaWorld and, with it, all the captivity industry. Certain schools refuse to send their kids to the delphinarium, rock stars boycott the shows, members of parliament suggest laws to ban captivity.
It is time for Europe to follow the same path and to put an end, once and for all, to this degrading industry, that inseminates dolphins like cattle, imprisons them in bare tanks and misinforms the public about the real life of cetaceans.
The Boudewijn Seapark opens in Bruges in 1972.
At the time, dolphins are considered like “the” new American attraction that can bring a lot of money quickly. Dolphinaria open all over Europe.
Harderwijk (in The Netherlands) is the first to dig ponds in 1962. While Marineland in Antibes (France) orders its orcas from SeaWorld, while England multiplies small structures filled with young and sick cetaceans and while the Duisburg Zoo starts its sinister massacre. Belgium won’t take much time to follow.
The first dolphinarium was born in 1968 in Mellen in Flanders. Maupertuus Park – that’s his name – brought 5 dolphins back from Florida. Only two of them are still alive when the plane lands, one mother and her child, which will rapidly die too.
On the 17th of December 1969, the Antwerp Zoo opens its new facility, this time for “scientific” purposes. The zoo orders its first victims in Florida. Jerry Mitchell and James Tiebor are its main suppliers for dolphins, dolphins that they capture in the Gulf of Mexico. From the beginning, it’s a massacre. At least 30 dolphins will perish.
A dolphinarium also opens in the “Plaine de la Sarte”, in Huy, in 1977.
Like Bruges, it is here also a sort of Walloon branch of Harderwijk. Two dolphins of the company are sent to these very small basins (10 meters long and 1,5 meter deep). But commercial success does not come. Harderwijk then takes back Jasperina, the last surviving dolphin, in its facilities in Bruges in 1978. The site is now called “Mont Mosan” and only exhibits sea lions and parrots.
Between 1976 and 1984, dolphins were also exhibited in a 6 degrees water in the Walibi Park in Wavre. They were called Boy, Leo, Missy, Kiki, Niky, Nemo and Girl. Some of them had been captured in Taiwan. They all died miserably.
Then the folly falls down again. The fashion for dolphinaria gradually loses its appeal in the nineties, with the closure of all the English sites and of the dolphinarium of the Antwerp Zoo in 1999, under the pressure of the activists. The dolphinarium of Bruges, however, still holds and is enthusiastically supported by the local politicians. They all mention the “well-being” of its residents, but especially the economic interests of such an attraction in terms of employment.
Managers of this park (under a dome), that is one of the last dolphinaria in Europe that deprives its dolphins from light and fresh air, can therefore regularly tell lies in the columns of our main newspapers, and affirm without a laugh that their dolphins live much longer in captivity and breed pretty well. No one dares to contradict them. So it is time to tell, here, how the Boudewijn Seapark was built, on a mountain of corpses…
From 1972 to 2009, the Boudewijn Seapark imported wild dolphins from Florida and probably the Caribbean, through his Dutch counterpart, the Harderwijk Dolphinarium, or through the “Dolfirado” in Stein (Limburg). In only one case, as we will see below, the Boudewijn Seapark received its dolphins directly from its supplier, without them going first through Harderwijk.
In this regard, the dolphinarium of Bruges bears a heavy responsibility.
The dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico have indeed paid very expensive this “Flippermania” outbreak, that all the emerging countries are now discovering, from Asia to Africa.
Between 1960 and 1993, more than 1600 marine mammals have been taken from the U.S. waters for the local and the international market. In the early nineties, a terrible epidemic has decimated the dolphins in the Gulf, and the USA had to prohibit all the commercial catches in 1993. This was also because the catches for the dolphinaria were finishing to deplete the populations…
Since then, Western aquatic circuses are forced to stick to breeding farms. Some dolphinaria succeed (with a relative success). But the births are insufficient and the life of these dolphins is too short to ensure the viability of a genetically healthy population on the long term. This will require new captures one day.
Roxanne, 3 missed births in 2 years
Unlike Antwerp Zoo, which makes no secret of its archives, Boudewijn Seapark never mentions the period between 1972 and 1988, during which the dolphinarium took part, with his Dutch accomplices, to the depopulation of the Gulf of Mexico.
The park even does everything to erase the past. For example, on the signs mentioning the six captive dolphins at the entrance of the dome, the name of Tex does not even appear. Yotta, Indy and Ocean, 3 only dolphins that were born captive and that are still alive, simply have no father.
Many researches are therefore needed to trace back the path of the cetaceans of Bruges. And this path remains incomplete, fragmentary, sometimes censored. The more we find clues on the true story of the dolphins in Bruges, the more the skein of the incessant transactions between the 6 Dutch dolphinaria and the 4 Belgian dolphinaria, under the leadership of Harderwijk, becomes difficult to unknot. The story of our 3 last dolphins founders in Bruges is very tumultuous, dramatic and confused.
The “Marine Mammal Inventory Report”, responsible for recording all the exports from the U.S.A., mentions that 3 big bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) arrived in Bruges in 1974. No other animal is mentioned before that.
This is curious. Because there had to be at least ONE dolphin for the opening of the dolphinarium in 1972! Several dolphins have thus lived at the dolphinarium during these first two years (1972-1974) without anyone remembering them. Their arrival in Belgium is nowhere mentioned, nor their death, in official documents. But there are traces…
In 1972, Dr. W.H. Dudok Van Heel, sent by the company Harderwijk BV, conducted a scientific investigation about the frequent and early deaths amongts the dolphins that his company imports, stands, keeps or distributes.
The author of this study obviously does not attribute these rapid deaths to the despair linked to containment – the dolphins arrive shortly after their capture, still shocked – but to a too high level of mercury in their blood. Van Heel mentions some of the dolphins present in Belgium.
During the winter of 1970-1971, he says, we helped build the Boudewijn Seapark. « To be able to fill the basins with dolphins “proper to educate the public”, we brought four freshly caught dolphins: Allan, a young adult male; Yogi, a juvenile male in poor health; Kiana, a young adult female; and Sherry, a juvenile female ».
A table is presented, which shows the distribution of this global purchase (22 dolphins) for four dolphinaria (Bruges, Harderwijk, Rotterdam and Zandvoort).
« All these dolphins were captured by Milton Santini in Marco Island, southwest Florida, except four of them, captured by James Tiebor. Animals delivered to Sweden (Kolmarden) were captured by Jerry Mitchell in Key Largo ». Jerry Mitchell was already providing the Antwerp Zoo. He was sentenced later for illegal catches in the Bahamas.
The dolphins chosen for shows in Bruges are, however, not those that have just been imported (Allan, Kiana and the others). You have there Milly and Sanny, two adult females perfectly tamed and healthy.
You have George and James, two young males also pre-tamed and whose health is improving. These dolphins belong to the Harderwijk dolphinarium but they travel from one dolphinarium to the other quite frequently. They are often moved at the time. Street aquatic circuses also travel around Europe, but Van Heel opposes them. He’s in favour of a stable habitat.
“The dolphins in Bruges didn’t cause us any problems”, he continues, “until the conclusion of this investigation in May 1972. From that moment, Georges and James started to lose their vitality. Kiana and Allan, despite of having been prepared in Harderwijk, could not stand the pressure of the training anymore, and we had to reduce it. We had to remove Allan from the shows and send him to rest in Holland. The health problems of the animals and the uncomfortable situation of the dolphinarium in Rotterdam, located in the heart of the city, led us not to renew the contract with this site. Hazel was transferred to Bruges in October 1971. In May 1972, his condition had slightly improved while Doris and Kiana’s health had deteriorated to such an extent that we had to send them again to Harderwijk in order to regain strength. Georges and James were doing well then ».
And it stops there. From Sherry, Yogi, Georges, Hazel or James, we will know nothing more. They probably all perished in Netherlands or Germany, but dolphins were dying so quickly that there was not enough time to record all the deaths…
In January 1974, the MMIR tells us that Bruges receives 3 dolphins from Harderwijk.
Allan and Kiana are leaving Holland to come back to Belgium. Jasperina joins them in 1978, after a really difficult time in Huy.
And time passes. In 1987, 3 dolphins are still held in Bruges: Allan, Kiana and Jasperina.
Jasperina dies rapidly. A study indeed confirms a case of septicemia concerning “a 13 year old female, living in the park since 7 years with 2 companions”. It’s Jasperina, who dies in September 1987, after two days of agony.
Oshin was born in January 1987, from Tex, still in Holland, and from an unknown mother (?). Is Kiana the mother ? The child settles with the couple. But not for long.
On the 11th of May 1988, a terrible fire destroys the wooden facilities of the Bruges dolphinarium. The 3 captive dolphins, 2 adults and a child, perish, suffocated, under the beams of the dolphinarium, in terror and suffering. Death by the fire is, for a dolphin, probably worse than the worst hell, an unimaginable pain. But the show must go on…
The ashes are still smoking when the dome is rebuilt and the basins repopulated. The “new” site will be officially inaugurated in 1990.
On the 24th of June 1988, the first group of dolphins arrives from the Dolfirado in Stein (Limburg), a place that has also just been ravaged by the fire. It’s Puck, Tex & Linda.
The presence of Puck is attested in a “holding pen” in 1979 (not specified), with an immediate departure towards the Dolfirodam of Rotterdam on the 26th of July 1979. A highly polluted and lethal place, where the captives are dying very fast.
She was then moved to Dolfirado Stein in 1981. She also resisted this rotten dolphinarium, haunted by insane dolphins, and that also took fire in 1987. Happily, neither Puck nor the other dolphins had to endure this suspicious accident, that was probably set up to try to cover/to hide an announced bankruptcy. They were then in the other aquatic circus of the owner, the Dolfirama of Zandvoort.
The Dolfirama opened in Holland in April 1969. At the time, it is considered like the largest dolphinarium in Europe, with its pool of one million liters and its combined spectacles of dolphins and sea lions. The building still exists today, but the shows of dolphins have stopped since 1988. The living conditions were so deplorable that the law has forced the dolphinarium to close.
Tex was supposedly born in 1974 and his capture took place between 1978 and 1980 in Rockport, Texas.
Linda was born in 1976. She was captured at the same time, on the southeast coast of Texas, thanks to the Permit #299, directly issued to the Dolfirado. Both of them are listed in the directory of the dolphinarium in Stein.
But weirdly, Puck is not mentioned. The MMIR doesn’t indicate any precise origin for her. Nobody knows what she has done between her birth in the wild and her arrival in Rotterdam in July 1979.
Just like the first dolphins of Bruges, Allan, Yogi, Kiana and Sherry, Puck has probably been captured near Grassy Keys by Milton Santini in 1966. The Boudewijn Seapark associates this date to her birth and makes her come from the Caribbean.
Milton Santini was a mackerel fisherman. After shooting down a first dolphin who was rummaging in his nets and after hearing him « cry like a baby » before he died, he catches a second dolphin. This time, he keeps the animal alive. The dolphin is intelligent, we will tame him without any difficulty and M. Santini then launches his business.
He catches a lot of other dolphins, amongst which probably Puck, and teaches them tricks. Tourists enjoy, but also a film director named Ivan Tors, who decides to make a film. The series « Flipper » was born. And the affairs of Mr. Santini start to flourish, until 1993. The company converts into a “research center”, the Dolphin Research Center, well known to tourists who can swim there with captive (but supposed not captured) dolphins.
On the 11th of July 1988, Bruges receives a second group of dolphins, numbered #620, including Kim (Gulfport), Roxanne (Gulfport), Terry (Gulfport) and William (Gulfport). This order is directly addressed by the Boudewijn Seapark to Mr. Moby Solangi, Gulfport.
Kim dies the following year and Ringo disappears at an unknown date. Terry will die devoured by fungi. From this “delivery” #620, Roxanne is the only one who has survived.
Roxanne was taken away very young from her mother. She was only 3 when she was captured, on the 6th of May 1988. Less than two months later, she flies to Belgium and finds herself forever trapped under the dome of the Bruges dolphinarium (in July 1988). The interesting point is that, this time, the place where she was captured is known: Gulfport !
Marine Mammal Productions was located in Gulfport. Its manager, Moby Solangi, has captured over 200 dolphins in the estuary of the Mississippi between 1956 and 1989. These animals have been sold to national and international dolphinaria, but also to the U.S. Navy.
Solangi was also putting his catches to rent. For a certain fee paid each month, the dolphinarium could receive a “package” with several tamed dolphins and sea lions, the services of a veterinarian and of a trainer, and also food for the marine mammals. If an animal was sick or died, Marine Mammal Productions, founded in 1965, pledged to replace it.
Many dolphins were dying due to stress or drowning during their capture. A former employee of Solangi has witnessed the death of 20 dolphins during a single operation. On another occasion, a mother and her child were caught in the nets. The baby sank to the bottom.
An eyewitness said: “Every diver was grabbing a dolphin, but not all of them could keep their vents above the water (…) you could tell by the floats of the nets that were sinking underwater that the dolphins were drowning. We could not help them, we could just watch until they die. It did not take long for dolphins to start drowning, probably because of their extreme efforts to resist and their panic. (…) A dolphin had a rope attached to the caudal (…) we continued to remove the net of the dolphins, and they just slowly sank to the bottom.”
This witness adds: “The permanent employees of Marine Life who captured this group were called by Moby later. He told them not to discuss the affairs of Marine Life with other employees or anyone outside the company (…) I learned later that there were good reasons for that. Marine Animal had already delivered at least 23 dolphins to the U.S. Navy in 1988. The death of more than 20 other dolphins would have made him exceed his quota of at least 18 units.”
Milton Santini, Jerry Mitchell, James Tiebor, Jay Sweeney and many others used the same methods and killed just as many dolphins. You have to imagine what Roxanne and his companions endured.
Roxanne probably has seen, right next to her, her little sister sinking, or her little brother. She probably has called her mother with all her strength, like Angel did in Taiji, and she probably heard her family and friends call her by her name, beg their torturers and drown before their eyes.
Once in Bruges, Tex & Linda have had a first baby, born on the 1st of July 1990. Skippy died in September 2000, at the same time than Terry and from the same disease : their skin and their vent were covered by fungi, and they died in an atrocious agony.
Puck also gave birth to Yotta on the 24th of August 1998, and to Indy, on the 13th of July 2003. Both are still alive today, besides here, but Tex, their father, died at age 20 at the Marineland (Antibes) in 2006, victim of a journey too much.
Roxanne is also lucky. In 2014, her son Ocean is still with her, when he should be traveling – in the wild – to form a coalition with other males of his age. However, she lost Flo, her beloved daughter, and she saw disappear forever.
Gorky, Luna, Marco were sent abroad. Simo, Iggy, her twins in 2011 and her youngest child, dead after only four days, in 2012 are now buried somewhere. In the wild, dolphins never really lose contact. Just like chimpanzees, they form a “fission-fusion” society, in which individuals move away and get closer at will, in the same region.
Linda, finally, the old friend of Puck and Roxanne, has been coldly deported to Italy with her son Mateo, just to make room after living 20 years all together under the dome. Nobody took into account the friendship and the bonds between her and the rest of her artificial pod. She still lives today amongst strangers in an overcrowded aquarium in Genoa. Her son has been sent to Spain as stallion.
The father of ALL these children, Tex, died in 2005 as a breeding loan at Antibes Marineland, where he probably committed suicide.
As for Beachie, the story is a little different. Beachie was rescued by SeaWorld Orlando when he stranded in Florida. He was released once and re-stranded, it is how he got his name. He was held at SeaWorld Orlando until being transferred to Harderwijk in 1997, then Bruges in 2009.
Do Puck and Roxanne remember those horrible catches, the screaming and the crying of the mothers deprived of their children ? Do they remember all those companions who died next to them, or those babies, condemned to live a few days only in the chlorinated pool water ?
Yes. They do. A recent study showed that dolphins had a prodigious memory and could recognize the voice of old friends more than 20 years after being separated from them. In the wild, they mourn their deaths.
Why is it important to tell those old stories ? Because they are not old stories !
Massive catches are still held in Japan, in Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, in the Solomon Islands, in Cuba, worldwide. The U.S. are only waiting for a signal to recover their former hunting licenses. Meanwhile, SeaWorld has already sponsored the capture of beluga whales in Russia.
For the dolphins, the pain is still the same, in 1980 or in 2014. Emerging countries are now imposing to captives what we were imposing them in the 70s and 80s. The tragic story of the dolphins in Bruges illuminates the present times.
This will happen tomorrow, and again and again, as long as the dolphinarium in Bruges and its colleagues of the EAZA will continue to claim that their aquatic circuses serve education, research and conservation. As long as they will send that sort of message to countries like Iraq, Pakistan, China, Russia, North Korea, and as long as they will say to them “Look! We make a lot of money! Just do like us!”
Note: If there are errors in this text, we thank in advance Bruges dolphinarium to kindly correct them. A little transparency always improves the image of a company. Thanks to Ceta Base for its help. Thanks to Christelle Bornauw for her excellent and courageous translation of this long article.
Original article :
Read also :
Preliminary Report on The Demographic Status of the Bottlenosed Dolphin in the E.E.EC (July 1981)
HELGA DE BOIS, PAUL VAN DEN SANDE
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