The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an American organisation, wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday, urging him “to put a stop to the ill-conceived and reckless plan” of building a marine park in the coastal district of Sindhudurg.

The State government has proposed an aquarium-based theme park in Sindhudurg on the lines of SeaWorld, a chain of marine mammal parks and ‘oceanariums' in the United States. Spread over 200 acres, the Indian counterpart is reportedly estimated to cost around Rs.500 crore.

In an email to Mr. Chavan, PETA stated: “The proposal for a marine park in Sindhudurg flies in the face of growing worldwide condemnation of confining wild animals or otherwise using them for human diversion. As people around the world learn more about the miserable lives of animals in oceanariums and other captive environments, they are staying away…We respectfully ask that you give serious consideration to immediately reversing the decisions that have led to this development being launched.”

According to PETA: “Confining animals that are genetically designed to swim the vast oceans to chemically treated concrete tanks is cruel. Whether taken from their ocean homes or bred in captivity, fish, rays, sharks, dolphins and other animals quickly grow depressed, bored and listless in the monotony of aquarium tanks. There's no doubt that they are aware they aren't where they are supposed to be. Many die far short of their expected lifespan.”

Flak for SeaWorld

The animal rights organisation pointed out that SeaWorld has itself come under severe criticism for holding captive whales and dolphins.

“According to a news report, SeaWorld was the inspiration for the proposed marine park in Sindhudurg, but considering the condemnation SeaWorld has faced for its cruelty to animals, this is egregiously irresponsible. Despite a well-financed public relations department, SeaWorld has one of the worst histories of animal care.

“At least 25 orcas have died at U.S. SeaWorld facilities in the last 26 years, none of them of old age. The causes of their deaths range from severe trauma, intestinal gangrene, acute hemorrhagic pneumonia, pulmonary abscesses, chronic kidney disease, chronic cardiovascular failure, septicaemia, influenza and cerebral necrosis. In many cases, the cause of death could not even be determined. Dozens of bottlenose dolphins have also perished in mysterious or troubling circumstances,” the letter said.

PETA has filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld for enslavement of orcas in violation 13 {+t} {+h} Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Research

PETA cited examples of accidents and physiological anomalies among captive dolphins that allegedly led to their death. It said scientific evidence in connection with this was “irrefutable.” Certain research studies showed that dolphins exhibited behaviours and reflexes that were close to those of humans.

There was opposition to “marine mammal exhibits” in England and a worldwide shifting of focus away from such displays, the organisation said. “In Brazil and Costa Rica, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, and Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. The state of South Carolina in the U.S. has banned exhibits of whales and dolphins,” the letter said.