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Marine mammal rescue centre

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Sturdy, 16 Oct 2010.

  1. Sturdy

    Sturdy Member

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    Like most people on this site I have always dreamed of owning my own zoo/aquarium, but the chances are that unless I win millions this is just not going to happen because there isn't a niche in the market for yet another zoo or aquarium.

    However the UK is seriously lacking any marine mammal rescue centres that caters for anything more than seals, in other words cetaceans. I've started to research the prospect of setting up the UKs first cetacean rehab centre, as there is a niche in the market for this and could possibly lead to some investment. My idea would be to set up something along the lines of Harderwijk Dolphinarium in the Netherlands (www.dolfinarium.nl), but without the performing theatre, so it would have a large naturally themed lagoon. In my opinion I don't think it is fair for us to euthanaise a stranded cetacean if it can't be floated back at that point in time, surely they should be given the chance of rescue and release?

    The reason I am writing this thread is to ask of peoples opinion of having such a facility in the UK and to draw on your knewlodge with regards to legislation. Can a rescue facility for cetaceans run and still open its doors under a zoo licence i.e. have other marine attractions to help with funds, or is there something put in place to prevent this from happening so to prevent dolphinariums opening under the pretexts of rescue centres?

    Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated, it would be a dream come true if I could get this off the ground.
     
  2. Javan Rhino

    Javan Rhino Well-Known Member

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    I assume it could be done. I think I heard somewhere that even dolphinariums arn't illegal, people just don't try and open them because of the major backlash they would get.

    This will be a stumbling block though, because the animal rights activists will (in majority) be skeptic and just see it as an excuse to bring cetaceans in.
     
  3. Sturdy

    Sturdy Member

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    That's right, dolphinariums aren't illegal. The majority shut down because of the legislation with regards to minimum size of the pools and none of the UKs were sufficient.

    All that could be said is that the centre would never own the cetaceans, if they became healthy then they would be released. If not then they would hopefully spend the remainder of their life in comfort.
     
  4. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    Reality Flash

    By far the biggest barrier to this type of endeavour would be financial. The costs for setting up and running such a place would be astronomical.

    Have you noticed how a number of medium and some large zoos in the UK lack pinniped exhibits? That, to the main extent, is down to costs. Similarly even some of the bigger zoos don't really have pinniped exhibits to write home about. If these zoos, with lots of visitors, can't finance decent pinniped exhibits I can't really see anyone easily affording to build a dolphinarium in the UK.

    Given how expensive, compared to zoos, our aquaria are I can't imagine you'd be able to get the general public to fork out £20 or more a time (x4 for the average family) to see a handful of rescued animals for a couple of hours. Our seal rescue centres charge around a third of that cost and most of their accomodation borders on functional/rudimentary (which is not a level of accomodation you could get away with with ceteceans). Presuming such a place would be near the coast you've also got the seasonality factor to consider -it's likely visitor numbers would be considerably lower in Winter.

    I would love to see a UK Hardewijk, but realistically unless you've got a benfactor(s) with a will of steel and very, very, very deep pockets I can't envisage it any time soon.
     
  5. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    There are dozens of marine mammal and bird rescue/rehabilitation facilities in the United States. Many of these are established aquariums that are open to the public as well. Often you can find unique unreleasable cetaceans in these facilities - such as harbor porpoise, spinner dolphin, etc.
     
  6. sealion

    sealion Well-Known Member

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    Have you been reading some of my posts? Because it looks like you've pretty much repeated what I've been saying in some other threads!! Serious deja vu!

    Soooo, I will happily aid you in this quest! It needs to be done!
     
  7. sealion

    sealion Well-Known Member

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    It's funny how dolphins get such preferential treatment compared with pinnipeds! :rolleyes:
     
  8. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    I'd say it's more a case of pinnipeds getting poor deals because they don't have the quite the same appeal (rightly or wrongly) to the general public as dolphins.

    Although I'm not of the "an enclosure's only big enough if you can't see the other side" persuasion I do think a significant number of UK pinniped enclosures don't really cut it.
     
    Last edited: 18 Oct 2010
  9. sealion

    sealion Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. Pinnipeds are better ;), although dolphins do come close.
     
  10. RowanGreen

    RowanGreen Well-Known Member

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    Pinnipeds do get to get out of the water though. So keeping them in small pens out of water during treatment at a rescue centre is reasonable. And they can get exercise out of the pool at a zoo (I've been backstage at Vancouver Aquarium: they had a sealion working with a trainer in a yard area back there, not something you saw with the beluga...)

    Not a big expert... but I'm guessing for a rescue centre you'd want a netted-off bay and some small treatment pools, rather than big onland pools, which would be cheaper. I'm guessing handling would be a nightmare (you can't expect a wild dolphin to stay still to be ultrasounded...)

    I'm thinking you'd probably want to get some experience with cetaceans in a centre abroad before you even thought about it. Unless you already have?

    One hell of a tall order I think, but good luck. It would be good if you could manage it.
     
  11. Sturdy

    Sturdy Member

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    No deja vu intended, I'm new to this site, would be great if you could forward me a link to your previous threads so I could have a read.

    I have no delusions about this taking a long time to happen in the UK, but it is something I would seriously love to see happen. A lot of research needs to be done and as suggested I would need experience working with cetaceans. So the ball is rolling and hopefully in 5 years or so we will see something supporting all marine mammals in the UK.
     
  12. sealion

    sealion Well-Known Member

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    It's the end bit of this thread:
    http://www.zoochat.com/38/dudley-zoo-killer-whale-13513/

    And welcome to the forum! It's nice to find someone with similar ideas! Do you have particular zoo/cetacean experience or are you planning on getting some and then working the plan through?
     
  13. Sturdy

    Sturdy Member

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    Thanks! I work for a public aquarium and have experience with pinniped rescue and rehabilitation. No cetacean experience other than doing some observations on them for the Sea Watch Foundation. I'm hoping to get some experience in the states in the next year or so.
     
  14. sealion

    sealion Well-Known Member

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    Ah cool, which aquarium? if you don't mind me asking? I'll be interested to here how things go!
     
  15. Sturdy

    Sturdy Member

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    So I've been doing some research and I was provided a paper from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) produced by a vet James Bernett. WDCS sent me this as to a reason against a cetacean rehabilitation centre, however reading this I'm of the opinion that one in the UK situated centrally would be a good idea, however as everyone has stated the costs would be very expensive. Research in the states suggests that rehabilitation is better for cetaceans then refloatation, as refloated cetaceans will often restrand.

    Unfortunately the file is too big to upload on to the forum. Was a very interesting read!
     
  16. sealion

    sealion Well-Known Member

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    It's always interesting to here what some people have to say...even if it is bias! :rolleyes: