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Best dolphinarium for UK visitors?

Discussion in 'Europe - General' started by lamna, 12 Aug 2014.

  1. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    I've never seen a single live cetacean in my life, and I'm planning on changing that in 2015 by going to a zoo or aquarium with dolphins next year.

    Does anyone have any recommendations?

    Factors in decided where to go are;
    1. East of access from the West Midlands for someone who can't drive
    2. How well they deal with ignorant English people who don't know any European Languages
    3. Cost of getting there, staying and entry
    4. Animal Welfare
    5. What else they have to see.

    I'm leaning towards either Dolfinarium Harderwijk or Zoo Duisburg. Harderwijk is closer, seems more friendly toward people who only speak English and has Harbour Porpoise. But Zoo Duisburg look like they have a much more to see besides the dolphins.
     
  2. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    For harbour porpoises, besides Haderwijk, you can go to

    - Fjord & Bælt, Denmark
    Fjord & Bælt - Home

    - Ecomare, The Netherlands
    Ecomare website

    For bottlenose dolphins:
    ZootierlisteHomepage

    Of them, Nuremberg might fit your factors.
    Duisburg has to offer the last boto in Europe. Just sayin'...

    Or take a longer vacation and go to Tenerife or Marineland (Antibes) for orcas...Or Valencia for belugas. Or go to Russia.

    What makes you think that the folks at Duisburg are less "friendly toward people who only speak English"?:p
     
    Last edited: 13 Aug 2014
  3. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    They don't have an English website, Harderwijk does. The Boto is very tempting, I don't suppose anyone has plans to get more.
     
  4. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

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    Although Zoo Duisburg has a full zoo with a lot of rarities besides their dolphins and their really great boto exhibit, you can only see the bottlenose dolphins during the show.
    When you really want to have a good look at dolphins I think Dolfinarium Harderwijk is the place to be with their awesome dolphin lagoon where you can really get a great look at them. Besides that, Harderwijk has exhibits for walrusses, harbour porpoises, both Steller's and Californian sea lions, common and grey seals and a lot of different shows (although I'm not particulary fond of the latter). However, Harderwijk is a lot more expensive then Duisburg (€28,50 against €14,50). I think you can reach both by public transport. Both zoos can deal with someone who speaks English but I think the people in the Netherlands will understand you better (I think Dolfinarium has more English speaking visitors then Duisburg).
     
  5. Paradoxurus

    Paradoxurus Well-Known Member

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    Probably the closest Dolphinarium (and one which seems to have been overlooked here) is Boudewijn Seapark in Brugge.
     
  6. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Both places are excellent choices and both are easy to reach by public transport.

    I first visited Duisburg Zoo almost thirty-four years ago in the autumn of 1980. There were three river dolphins there then and they’d already been in the collection several years, I believe they arrived in 1975, so the surviving animal has been in the zoo nearly forty years. I suspect that, when he eventually dies, we’ll never see another in Europe - so see him while you can.

    One of the advantages of going to Duisburg is that there are several other excellent German zoos (e.g. Cologne and Wuppertal – and various others too) all within very easy travelling distance.

    Harderwijk is also highly recommended; the Dolphin Lagoon there is definitely my favourite of all the cetacean exhibits that I’ve seen.
     
  7. Merintia

    Merintia Well-Known Member

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    I have visited both parks, Duisburg and Harderwijk, and I didn´t feel one was more or less friendly that the other (apart of Spanish, I only speak a little bit English).

    Apart of what have been already said, I think the better place depends of what do you prefer, if more rare species, or "enjoy" more seeing the animals. The Lagoon in Harderwijk is by far the best dolphin enclosure I have seen, and you can stay all the day on the amazing underwater view if you want. But the Boto at Duisburg is already old, and you won´t have any chances to see that species in Europe once he die. All depends on your priorities.
     
  8. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    If I were you I'd be more interested in '5. what else they have to see'. It'll be an experience to see your first dolphin show or watch them from underwater, but you can easily see wild cetaceans fairly near home. I've had brilliant sightings of porpoises from the Anglesey shore, for instance.
    Cost looks like it'll be an important factor. Travelling round Germany or the Netherlands by public transport is simple and pleasant, but not particularly cheap. :)
     
  9. Mr T

    Mr T Well-Known Member

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    I would go with devilfish here. If you are wanting to see some cetaceans why not attempt to see wild ones? A trip to Chanonry Point near Inverness is supposedly the best place in Europe to see them and on my visits I have seen dolphins every single time. There are plenty of other places in the UK that you have a good chance to see cetaceans too. Yes, you aren't guaranteed to see anything but I can honestly say that personally the experience of seeing an animal in the wild rather than in captivity is far better.
     
  10. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I was reading down the thread wondering if anyone was going to say that seeing wild cetaceans would be a good choice (in my view, the best choice). There are places you can watch them from shore, and there are places where there are boat trips. I should think you could do a local (i.e. UK) wild dolphin-watching trip for cheaper than going to Europe to look at captive ones in a crappy little swimming pool.
     
  11. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    There are several reasons I'm also interested in a dolphinarium as well as trying to see them in the wild.

    The first is I want to see them up close, which obviously can happen when you go whale watching, but it's not guaranteed and however close you get, you won't be at the dolphins level.

    The second all comes back to one thing, I'm not good with the sea. I can't swim (anymore) and have a phobia of deep water in general and mackerel sharks in particular.

    So I'll never get in the water with them, and never see to see them in the water except in dolphinariums.

    Finally, the last dolphins left the UK the year I was born. I've been raised in country where keeping cetaceans in captivity is weird, foreign, wrong, just because it is. I live in a country where the BBC feels it has to apologize every time it makes a documentary involving captive dolphins.

    I want to be able to judge for myself.
     
  12. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    Replace "swimming pool" with "exhibit" or "cage", and you have a typical anti-zoo rant. Just sayin'...And I wouldn't consider the dolphin exhibits of, say Harderwijk or Nuremberg, as "crappy". Go there in person to See for yourself.
     
  13. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    well I'm broadly anti-captivity for cetaceans. It's mostly based on my own personal viewpoint rather than anything else: I simply don't like dolphins and other cetaceans in tanks (and the bigger the species is the less I like it). If other people like them that's their business, and I do understand lamna's reason for wanting to see them underwater (i.e. through a viewing window).

    Having said that, I am also of the opinion that those dolphins which would be most suited to captivity would probably be the Amazon river dolphins, due to their habitat. I feel it would be much easier to provide a good living environment for them than it would be for oceanic dolphins. Unfortunately they seem the least likely to make a come-back into captivity.

    But we shouldn't turn this thread into a pro/anti captive dolphin debate, but keep it as where are the best places for lamna (or anyone) to see them captive.
     
  14. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    If it wasn't for the anti-"cetaceans in captivity" attitude, botos as well as other river dolphin species might have established themselves in captivity by now. And we wouldn't be limited to anecdotic data about Indus River dolphins based on husbandries in the cellar of a Swiss psychiatry.
    ...

    The boto exhibit at Duisburg Zoo is pretty nice and allows some interesting perspectives:
    Toucan and Boto Friendship by RobindV on deviantART

    @lamna: I wouldn't consider the lack of an English version of Duisburg Zoo's homepage as a sign of "xeno/anglophobia" ;) ; other zoos don't have one, too, and I have not felt "unwanted" as a foreigner there while visiting. Among others, it also depends on the number of international visitors whether a zoo offers an English version of its homepage.
    The other commentators are right in pointing out the unparalleled concentration of zoos in the Ruhr area and "Baby" the boto as a unique feature. Harderwijk's key features have been correctly described, too. So @lamna-flip a coin. ;) As for travelling: http://meinfernbus.de/en/
    @Paradoxurus: Have you been there in person?
     
    Last edited: 13 Aug 2014
  15. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    here's what I would choose (and I say this as someone who hasn't been to any of the places in this thread!): I would choose Duisburg because it has an Amazon river dolphin; and I would choose Valencia -- even though it is on the opposite side of Spain from the UK, it has belugas and belugas are Amazing! (It also has bottlenose dolphins and walruses).
     
  16. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    When I said how "friendly" a zoo is to ignorant Englishers I mean how easy it to cope there without knowing the language. I'm sure I wouldn't feel unwelcome at any of the zoos discussed, but if nobody speaks English and there is no English signage I'd have trouble.

    Fortunately I have now have a friend who's lived in Germany for 6 years, so I can probably rope him into it. Unfortunately he's more interested in herptiles and invertebrates than birds and mammals, and I don't think Zoo Duisburg has much that really stands out from the crowd in that area.

    Anywhere in the Ruhr that does?
     
  17. IanRRobinson

    IanRRobinson Well-Known Member

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    This is an interesting thread. I saw Bottle-nosed Dolphins at Whipsnade and Windsor(and an Orca at the latter), and I have seen where cetaceans were kept at Dudley and Woburn. I'm bound to say that I don't miss any of them as cetacean exhibits.

    OTOH, I think it's a great pity that the UK hasn't got an equivalent to Harderwijk. And I do think that somebody, somewhere, should make the effort to establish freshwater dolphins in captivity; losing the Baiji is quite bad enough, and there may very well be other freshwater dolphin species that simply run out of habitat. It would be good to know that we COULD set up captive facilities for them.
     
  18. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    Yes: Terrazoo Rheinberg-Winterswick and Aquazoo Düsseldorf (unfortunately closed till early 2015 for renovation).
    TerraZoo Reptilienhaus - RAS-Zoo gGmbH - Startseite

    For further research on German zoos:
    ► Zoo-Infos.de ◄ - The German Zoo Database
     
  19. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    Given the already mentioned growing "anti-cetacean husbandry" attitude in western countries, few institutions will be interested in deliberately going in hot water by establishing new cetacea husbandries.
    Personally, I agree with you that it is a pity that a) freshwater cetacea species (including also the Yangtze freshwater subspecies of the Finless porpoise) could benefit from professional international ex-situ husbandry projects and b) facilities like Haderwijk experienced and equipped to handle, keep and (if possible) rehabilitate sick, injured or beached cetaceans are at the same time scrutinized and requested when necessary. But as Chli pointed out, this discussion might be more apt in another, independent thread. ;)
     
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  20. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    I'll make a new topic about UK dolphinarium in the United Kingdom area, and maybe another about establishing captive populations of freshwater dolphins.

    TerraZoo looks like exactly what we need, but I can't find any pictures or information on ZooChat. Is it under a different name?