Despite dedicated efforts to put a stop to its opening, the Phuket Dolphinarium in southern Thailand looks set to open after receiving the necessary public zoo operations license from the Department of Fisheries.
The public outcry against the dolphinarium was widespread but it was the kids from the Gecko school community, the pioneer cove monitors of Ric O’Barry’s dolphin project, who had the most prominent voice of all. They raised funds themselves to finance their trips to Taiji just so they could witness first-hand what really happens at these dolphin hunts. They spoke eloquently to an audience of businessmen and officials telling them exactly what they thought of the dolphinarium. They helped garner the support of local schools and universities and got the attention of animal lovers from all over the world.
So when the opening of the dolphinarium stalled in its tracks due to legal red tape and rumored investor jitters, it appeared that the kids accomplished what it set out to do.
As it turns out, these kids were to learn that the path of an activist is never easy and like the human condition – quite unpredictable.
The Fight Against the Dolphinarium
Ten months down the road, the owners at the dolphinarium have improved their facilities to the required specifications and have attained the necessary license to operate as a zoo. The only thing left is for the approval of the import of the stars of the show: eight Dolphins and two seals from the Ukraine, five of the dolphins were originally captured from the wild in Taiji’s controversial hunt.
While it remains unclear exactly which dolphins will be used for the show, it is the moral issue of using dolphins for human entertainment that needs to be addressed. Many dolphinariums believe that they have a role in educating people about marine life by providing proximity to these mammals.
Kids Lend Their Voice to Captive Marine Animals
However, attitudes have changed. Today, the public is more aware about animal welfare. They know it is possible and better to see dolphins in the wild, just as the kids from the Gecko community have – only a few minutes away from the planned dolphinarium.
“The only thing that children learn from seeing animals in zoos, aquariums or dolphinariums is that animals should be in cages and that humans have the power to put them there” said one of 10-year-olds who was part of the group who went to visit the dolphin hunt in Taiji.
For the dolphinarium owners, their aim may be simply to start seeing a return on their million dollar investment as soon as possible. If they are aware of the pain and suffering that dolphins have had to endure to run their business, they have chosen ignore it. Which makes the owners and the Thai Fisheries Department part of the problem, a supporter of a cruel and inhumane business.
In the end, true activism may not be so much about changing the world, but more about living according to the truth of one’s heart.
These kids are living by example. They may not be able to change the world overnight but they are sending ripples through their community to deliver an important message – that the world needs compassion more than it needs another dolphinarium.
All image source: Tracy Harper