Today 20090321: Don’t snatch them out of the wild …

This letter is a follow-up to the petition to Say “NO” to whale sharks in captivity. The focus has been on the whale sharks but let’s not forget the conventional staple of marine parks: dolphins.  Live dolphin capture is the only way to fill the IR’s quota, and the source is the Solomon Islands, self-made dolphin kidnapping capital (not forgetting Asia’s version: Taiji of Japan). There are many issues with such dolphin “acquisition” and the dolphins’ subsequent (often short-lived) exploitation, not least because dolphins are closely bonded with their extended families and capturing them mean tearing families apart. It is no wonder that dolphin captures spark protests beyond Singapore shores. The next time you see dolphins performing or swim with them in so-called swim with dolphin programmes, remember that’s not a smile you see curving their mouths upwards.

Don’t snatch them out of the wild …

Weekend • March 21, 2009

Letter from Louis Ng

Founder and Executive Director

Animal Concerns Researchand Education Society (Acres)

I REFER to the report “Petition to stop captivity (March 13)” and the Marine Life Park statement issued on Jan 9.

The main issue should not be whether the dolphins or whale sharks that Resorts World at Sentosa plans to acquire are listed as “endangered” or “least concern” or “vulnerable”.

How endangered these species are is important, but what Acres feels is most important is the individual animals that will be and are affected by Resorts World at Sentosa’s decisions.

According to news reports, 18 dolphins have already been snatched from the wild and are currently in the Philippines for training. Catching dolphins from the wild is a terribly invasive process — stop and think for a moment how frightened these dolphins would be.

I doubt the dolphins care that they will be looked after by a team of professionals and experts. We hope that the resort owner will change their plans before a whale shark is similarly captured.

Acres remains committed to maintaining our dialogue with Resorts World. They have taken the progressive step of leaving sharks fin off their menus, recognising the importance of protecting wild marine life. Acres sincerely hopes they make a moral and similarly progressive decision of not gambling on the lives of dolphins and whale sharks and cancel their plans to acquire these animals.

It really is not just about simply abiding to regulations, but about maintaining the moral integrity of the company.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

This is the report TODAY ran on 13 Mar, which Mr Louis Ng referenced.

Petition to stop captivity

Friday • March 13, 2009

LOCAL animal welfare groups are teaming up with their international counterparts for a public awareness campaign online opposing plans by Resorts World at Sentosa to import whale sharks for its oceanarium.

The seven groups on Wednesday launched a website which calls on the public to “voice their opinions” on the plans to import the whale sharks, described as the largest living fish species.

The integrated resort will feature a Marine Life Park, set to become the world’s biggest oceanarium, with 700,000 fish in 20 million gallons of water.

But the seven organisations, including the international groups Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are arguing that whale sharks, which can grow up to 20 metres, are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and do not belong in the facility.

“No man-made environment, no matter how large, could accommodate the needs of a whale shark … evidence has shown that they fare poorly in captivity,” the groups said in a statement, while acknowledging that the Singapore Tourism Board and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority have committed to ensure that all wild animals are cared for at international standards of animal husbandry.

Campaign coordinator Jaki Teo said that they have received more than 100 emails overnight.

“We hope government organisations will support us on this because this concerns Singapore’s international image. It’s not just a tourist attraction, people will come and say ‘what’s a whale shark doing in Singapore?’” she said.

RWS defended its plans, saying the threat that whale sharks face “makes the role of aquariums in their conservation all the more crucial”. The Marine Life Park’s goal is to “help protect the species’ wild population from disappearing”, and it has worked closely with marine experts to give the animals “top-class care”, said the resort. AFP

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.


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