National Animal Welfare Board says dolphinarium is illegal

It seems the adorable flippers might not make a splash in Kochi.

The National Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has asked the State governments not to allow dolphinariums, spiking the dreams of Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA).

Chairman of the board R.M. Kharb wrote to the State Chief Secretaries and Wildlife Wardens asking them not to allow such facilities. Any attempt to import the animals for display and performance in dolphinarium would be in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 stipulate that all animals used for entertainment have to be registered with the board. However, the AWBI has not issued performance certificates to whales, dolphins and porpoises. Dr. Kharb said such certificates would also not be issued in future.

GCDA chairman N. Venugopal said the State government had originally planned for a dolphinarium, but the authority was presently working on a Dolphin Park, which would feature only four to five trained dolphins.

Representatives of the company that operates dolphin parks at Singapore and Dubai will submit a detailed project report on the proposed park in a couple of days. The 20-crore project is likely to come up at GCDA’s 1.5-acre land behind the High Court of Kerala.

The park, going by the preliminary plan, will have three pools – for water treatment, display and resting of animals – in a 1000-seat auditorium.

“I am told that there is no restriction in displaying trained dolphins as it is allowed in many parks across the world. We will be presenting the detailed proposals to the State government and all ministries concerned for permission,” said Mr. Venugopal.

However, it is pointed out that the capture and transport of cetaceans would violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The transport would be stressful and dangerous for cetaceans, which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. The mortality rates of captured bottlenose dolphins were found shooting up six-fold immediately after capture and it remained so up to 45 days, Mr. Kharb’s letter said.

The Board was of the view that captive cetacean attractions “miseducate the public about wildlife and the marine environment.” The public are also led to believe that the tricks displayed by the animals at dolpinarium are their true behaviour in the wild and that cetaceans are pets, the letter said.

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