Help Stop the New Dolphinarium in South Korea!
By Mark J. Palmer
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
Earth Island has been alerted by the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA), a group of local activists in the Republic of Korea, about a new proposed dolphinarium to be located on the island of Geoje near the city of Busan, the center of Korea’s old whaling industry.
We understand the park intends to import four beluga whales from Russia and up to fifteen dolphins from Taiji, Japan, home of the dolphin slaughter made infamous by the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove.
However, KAWA reports that the National Institute of Biological Resources, an organization affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Environment, disapproved the application for importing the belugas and has decided to give conditional approval for only four Taiji dolphins (which, frankly, is four too many!), for a period of three months. These decisions were reportedly based on several reasons, including the significant difference of the ocean temperature between the beluga’s natural habitat and that of South Korea; the small size of the facility, which raises issues of pollution and disease among the captives if too many are jammed into small pools; and the fact, oddly, that there will be no safety facilities to prevent animals from escaping.
KAWA, Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Elsa Nature Conservancy and other organizations have been working to prevent this facility from breaking ground, citing the inherent cruelty of captivity for dolphins and the links to the Taiji hunts.
Ric O’Barry, director of Earth Island’s Dolphin Project, says: “Geoje Dolphin Park will directly support the horrors that occur in Taiji, Japan, as the dolphin slaughters are directly subsidized by live purchases that these captivity industry officials are trying to make.”
Ironically, Ric is going to be heading to Korea shortly to help authorities rehabilitate and release four captive dolphins that were illegally caught. The Mayor of Seoul personally invited Ric to be a consultant on this project.
You can help by signing the online petition to Korean authorities.
Korea has a growing international presence, and we would hate to see the country squander its goodwill around the world by setting up another dolphin park that feeds off the bloody dolphin slaughter of Taiji.
Photo of dolphin being trained in Japan aquarium by Mark J. Palmer.