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The Return of Dolphinaria?

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by lamna, 13 Aug 2014.

?

Would you support keeping cetaceans in captivity in the UK?

  1. No, under no circumstances.

    14 vote(s)
    22.2%
  2. Yes, in rehabilitation centres not open to the public.

    6 vote(s)
    9.5%
  3. Yes, in lagoons à la Harderwijk.

    13 vote(s)
    20.6%
  4. Yes, in accordance with DEFRA regulations.

    30 vote(s)
    47.6%
  1. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully you will read these conditions before you vote.

    1. We're talking about bottlesnose dolphin, harbour porpoise and other smaller species that have a good record of survival. Orca and other large whales are another kettle of fish.
    2. All animals would be captive bred or rescues. No wild capture at all. Certainly nothing from dolphin drives.
    3. There would either be no shows at all, or very brief educational talks where the animals performed a few behaviors, like most sealion shows.

    I was inspired to make this because of the discussion in the Europe area when I asked about good places to see captive dolphins on the continent.

    Personally, I would like to see one or two places open in the UK, perhaps one on either coast.
    I think getting to see them up close would really help get people excited about helping them, and it seems a shame that there is no middle ground between re-floating a stranded cetacean and humanely killing it.

    Harderwijk looks good from what I can tell online, but I hope to go soon so I can judge for myself.
     
  2. Hyak2

    Hyak2 Active Member

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    It is interesting that you note no shows/ short talks with few behaviours. This indicates some bias toward the anti captive propaganda which the media is awash with, yet has no basis in good animal husbandry or bettering their lot by catering more toward their needs.

    Facilities I have been to who use the 'only educational talks' approach have not only been some of the least inspiring experiences for the visitor, but have also contained some of the most lethargic looking animals out there. Dolphins are active animals which need challenging activity and stimulation and need to be moved and exercised accordingly. A few little behaviours does not really cut it from a mental health and exercise point of view. Whereas animals which are rotated in an energetically demanding show may actually become very fit. A well put together show not only excites and interests the visitor, but inspires them to learn more about the animal in question which includes situations the wild counterparts may face and related issues. A part high energy and part educational mixed show offers the best of both while giving an animal a decent work out.

    So what I'm saying is , in essence, don't write off shows as being bad and old fashioned before recognising the positives and benefits - not only to the visitor but to the animals themselves!

    Personally I would love to see a couple of dolphinaria in the UK. BNDs are now self sustaining in European and American collections and so we are now worlds away from the time where western oceanariums routinely caught animals for display. Frankly, they live longer in captivity all things considered. Wild populations of dolphins in Florida on average die before the 15 year mark......Whereas the average for captive in modern aquaria now last significantly longer. Indeed the last 3 dolphins exported from Flamingoland in 1993 were caught in 1983 and are all still alive and breeding in European facilities at over 30 years old.
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not going to vote in the poll (if I did I'd probably go for number four; I don't like dolphins in captivity personally but I'm not black-and-white on the issue and I think there does, at the least, NEED to be some sort of rehab facility for stranded cetaceans otherwise the only options are "push it back in" or "shoot it in the head"). However I think you should have also had in there "yes, in rehabilitation centres which are open to the public." Seems like a skipped step.

    Also I was going to say pretty much what Hyak2 said above. You might have some giant pool but if there's no stimulation for the dolphins that's not going to be so great for them. I expect you interpret "shows" to be circus act type stuff, but that doesn't need to be the case. Also I think people make too much of a comparison between sealions and dolphins. They both live in the sea but I think dolphins would need much more human-oriented stimulus provided than sealions (I guess. I don't really know, that's just the way it would seem to me).
     
  4. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    If it's a new, state-of-the-art facility built specifically around keeping cetecea healthy and happy by current standard, then I don't have much of a problem with it.

    Let's remember that many of the biggest problems with captive cetaceans often come from small, out-of-date habitats and tanks built decades ago and/or a "theme parks" atmosphere more focused on visitors than the animals, all in addition to the trauma of wild ceteceans being taken from their family pods in their native habitats. A newly-built facility with ceteceans as a focus eliminates many of these problems, and would allow us to integrate what we've learned of ceteceans in recent years as research continues.
     
  5. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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  6. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    Part of the point of this is that I don't have any first hand experience of this. I've never seen a dolphin show, I've never grown up with dolphins on zoo programs. For me my only exposure has been though the media, which is always at least slightly anti-cap in the UK.

    Perhaps I could have said shows that focus on the dolphin, rather than on public. Stuff that is still challenging and interesting for dolphin and guest, but no jumping though flaming hoops or wearing silly hats.
    I assumed they would be covered in the last two choices. I don't know if you could maintain a rescue facility without some resident cetaceans to generate revenue, teach the staff how to deal with dolphins and provide company once rescued animals have started to recover.

    I suppose you could attach a rescue facility to a current zoo or aquarium, but it still seams strange to exclusively house rescued animals and be open for punters.
     
  7. Stjarna

    Stjarna Member

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    Why not include average profit-oriented dolphinarias in this poll ? This would be the most plausible option.
     
  8. okapis

    okapis Well-Known Member

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    Cant see it happening in U.K. now dolphins have been gone to long, think back to my days going to Windsor Safari Park,we have come a long way since then but just think to expensive to start again and anti Zoo groups like Born Free would campaign against so dont see it.
     
  9. bluetoffeezoo

    bluetoffeezoo Well-Known Member

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    don't think I have ever seen a dolphin 'show' where they jump through fire or wear hats. The shows tend to consist mostly of natural behaviours and dolphins being dolphins
     
  10. Parrotsandrew

    Parrotsandrew Well-Known Member

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    I have voted for number four, but having grown up in the British dolphinaria boom years I'd like to see cetaceans back whatever the circumstances. I have read the conditions, but as someone who always says Cuddles the Killer Whale remains his favourite ever zoo animal I cannot really say I object to wild-caught animals as I do not (and that applies to everything not just cetaceans). Do I agree with Clinton Keeling who used to say wild-caught animals truly represent their places of origin in a way that specimens born in confinement do not and are therefore the more interesting for it? Maybe I would not go that far, but I do think the times of collecting trips were the good old days and seeing an animal that had been plucked from the sea was exciting. Those days are gone though and I know I am in the minority in mourning them. I do think the days of British cetacean exhibits are gone forever too - unfortunately, especially as it would be one in the eye for the antis if they were to return.

    P.S. Am I also in a minority in continuing to call a small cetacean to be seen in British waters the Common Porpoise? When I were a lad Harbour, well Harbor, was the American name for the species - and the same goes for the Common Seal.
     
  11. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    I think I am safe in saying the chances of a new dolphinarium , performing or not, is zero. I, like Andrew remember well the dolphin shows at Flamingo Park, Windsor, especially when Yasmine Smart was presenting the show:), Seaburn, Scarborough etc. At the time I thought they were good, looking back now I am not exactly in favour of them, firstly the cost of building such a new exhibit would be enormous, it would cost millions, also as a P.R. exercise it would be a disaster after the anti zoo brigade got stuck in, I cannot see any reputable zoo taking the chance of spending millions just to get the cranks at the gate demonstrating, didn't Blackpool suggest a few years back that they were considering having dolphins?, it came to nothing.
     
  12. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    I agree that the possibilities of dolphins in the UK are, sadly, slim to none -that's not quite impossible though.

    If an organisation had the cojones of an elephant (themselves, not removed), a very good PR department and very, very deep pockets it could be done. I think is might just about be financially viable in the right location* but someone would have to have a massive appetite for risk.

    *To be honest I'm not certain a potential catchment area of around 60 million would be enough -Harderwijk (superb) has a large European population surrounding it.
     
  13. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    A question for Andrew, I remember visiting Flamingo Land in 1987 and the dolphin show had returned there that year, how many years did it continue, can you remember?, There were antis at the gate demonstrating I recall on the day of my visit, and it was a quiet mid week day, this is the only time I have ever come across anti zoo protestors picketing a zoo entrance.
     
  14. Hyak2

    Hyak2 Active Member

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    The last 3 flamingoland dolphins arrived in 1984 after being caught in 1983 and having a brief spell in Knowsley whilst final touches were made to the Flamingoland pool. They left for Kolmarden in 1993 and all three are still alive today , along with several babies they have produced along the way. Lotty and Sharky in Marineland Antibes and Betty in Genova with several of her offspring.
     
  15. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    So the dolphins returned in 1984, interesting as I had always thought it was 1987, the year I first saw this trio at Flamingo Land, thanks for the information, and I am pleased to hear all three are still going strong.
     
  16. Parrotsandrew

    Parrotsandrew Well-Known Member

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    As Hyak2 says it was in 1984. I think I posted a photo or two of shows in 1985 on the Flamingo Land Gallery.
     
  17. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    If a zoo in the U.K. did decide to go ahead with a new dolphin exhibit in the future I suggest one of the biggest obstacles it would have to overcome is the legacy left by these shows in the past. I recall seeing quite a few of them in the sixties and seventies when they were extremely popular, they were not just at zoos and safari parks, several fairgrounds had them, eg, Battersea, Porthcawl, I even remember a travelling dolphin show at the fair at Weymouth in the early seventies, and there was once a dolphin show in Oxford Street London would you believe. They were very much money making machines for their owners, the cost of building the pool and the purchase of the animals themselves may have been high, but this was recouped many times over, and if the dolphins died, mortality rate at this time was high, it was just a case of buying some more and call them the same names as their predecessors, including the obligatory Flipper, named after the star of a popular television series at the time. For these reasons dolphin shows became less popular as the novelty wore off with the public, who had started to listen to animal welfare groups voicing their concerns, similar perhaps to polar bears being kept in small concrete dens and elephants being kept in the singular in small featureless yards. Thankfully things have improved dramatically for elephants over the years, and as we are now seeing in Doncaster, their polar bear will be living in a first class exhibit.
     
  18. IanRRobinson

    IanRRobinson Well-Known Member

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    Really, it boils down to money. As Shorts pointed out, any UK cetacean facility would need to make a profit on UK/Irish visitors alone. And as AF has reminded us, the previous generation of UK dolphinaria were appalling. The equation was pretty much: take one swimming pool, add dolphins (replaced at worryingly regular intervals), feed fish, put on displays, charge punters. A lot of grim memories need excision, and the cost of doing so is likely to be high.

    Having said all of that, a really good UK/Irish marine mammal setup would be something that I would love to see.
     
  19. Waddi

    Waddi Well-Known Member

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    I think Blackpool Zoo would be the ideal candidate to bring dolphins back to the UK, their parent group, Parques Reunidos, own other enterprises that hold dolphins, and blackpool zoo could call on their knowledge and experience. The have already converted their sealion show to be very marine land looking.
     
  20. Wigwam

    Wigwam Member

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    Hope it never happens. After successfully seeing the end of all Dolphinarium's in the UK - the last ones I think were in Morecambe (Marineland) & Yorkshire (Flamingoland). I think that any creature that uses sonar/echo location, would go stir crazy in any form of boxed enclosure.