In yet another sign that the trade in captive dolphins and whales could well be on its last legs, Rimini Dolphinarium in northeast Italy has at last been shut down for good!

The dolphinarium has previously been cited for multiple cases of animal abuse, according to the U.K.-based conservation group Born Free. In August 2013, the facility was fined €18,000 (the equivalent of $24,500) for breaching the terms of their licence. These transgressions included: the administration of tranquillisers and inappropriate hormonal treatments, inadequate housing conditions, an ineffective water cooling and cleaning system, and inadequate access to appropriate veterinary care.

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At the time, Daniel Turner, spokesperson for Born Free, said: “Rimini Dolphinarium, as with the majority of the five dolphinaria in Italy, are not compliant with their legal requirements. Three are not properly licensed; all, but Genova Aquarium, require their dolphins to perform tricks to music; whilst none of them seemingly contribute to public education or species conservation. All the facilities should be phased out and the 26 dolphins relocated to an appropriate rehabilitation facility.”

And now it looks like Turner and other concerned activists may get their wish!

Italian news outlet, Ansa, reported on Tuesday that the Ministry of the Environment decided to revoke the Rimini Dolphinarium’s license following an in-depth investigation of the dolphins’ living conditions. Severe structural irregularities in the dolphins’ enclosure, as well as the continued administration of inappropriate drugs, were contributory factors in the Ministry’s decision.

Sadly, the dolphins will not be released into the wild, but are instead being moved to the Aquarium of Genoa.

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However, there is no doubt that the closure of Rimini Dolphinarium sends out a significant signal to all other aquaria and captive facilities in Italy that attempt to house their dolphins in sub-standard conditions.

Image source: Justin De La Ornellas/Flickr

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