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Outcry after dolphin left in deserted aquarium in Japan

46 penguins, reptiles and fish need to be rescued

August 28, 2018 09:30 pm | Updated 09:30 pm IST - Tokyo

Honey, a bottle-nose dolphin, is seen at the aquarium in Choshi.

Honey, a bottle-nose dolphin, is seen at the aquarium in Choshi.

The plight of a lonely dolphin and dozens of penguins that have been abandoned in a derelict aquarium in Japan since the start of the year sparked protests this week, with activists and ordinary Japanese alike calling for the animals to be saved.

The female bottlenose dolphin, nicknamed Honey, was captured in 2005 near Taiji, a western port town that has become notorious for its annual dolphin hunt that was featured in the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary The Cove , media reports say.

The practice of Japanese aquariums buying dolphins from Taiji came under heavy criticism following the release of the film.

The operator of the Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium in the city of Choshi in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, shuttered the facility in January citing a decline in visitors after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear crisis.

Honey and 46 penguins, along with hundreds of fish and reptiles, remain at the aquarium, an official with the Chiba prefectural Health and Welfare department said.

Employees have been regularly feeding the animals, he added, but photos and video taken by activists in March and August from outside the park show Honey floating in a tiny pool in an eerily empty facility. In another picture, dust-covered penguins can be seen perched on a crumbling structure near a pile of debris.

News of the abandoned animals spread quickly over social media, with Twitter users posting photos captioned “Save Honey”. A resort hotel's offer to give them a new home sparked a flood of retweets.

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