Response to Resorts World Singapore's Letter to Philippine Daily Inquirer

by Earth Island Institute Philippines
22 November 2011

Letter to the Editor/Opinion Section
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Via readersadvocate@inquirer.com.ph
opinion@inquirer.com.ph

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is in response to the letter by Resorts World Singapore (RWS) last 22 November 2011 through Mr. Lim Soon Hua, the RWS Director for Communications.

We beg to disagree that the method they used to obtain the dolphins conforms to CITES requirements. In fact, the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands was put under the Review of Significant Trade in the Animals Committee of CITES in 2008 due to the issue of sustainability.

In that meeting in 2008, the Solomon Islands government committed to stopping the export of dolphins if it was proven to be unsustainable. This September 2011, the government of the Solomon Islands announced that all dolphin exports will be banned starting January 2012, an admission that the past dolphin hunts have been largely unregulated and unsustainable.

It is also doubtful that the facility where the dolphins are being kept is truly a ‘well established facility’. The Ocean Adventure Park which houses the dolphins has had 4 out of its 5 false killer whales die in just a few years of operation. All four false killer whales were all juveniles and died before they were sexually mature.

Moreover, Ocean Adventure has been sued for the violation of the Environmental Impact Statement System of the Philippines (PD 1586) as well as the violation of the Animal Welfare Act (RA 8485), a well established facility, indeed!

As for the 25 dolphins from the Solomon Islands, none of the government officials from the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Bureau of Animal Industry-Animal Welfare Division (BAI-AWD) can verify their current condition based on our meetings with these two agencies. In fact, both the BFAR and BAI-AWD have not inspected the dolphins in their facility and could not even tell us if all 25 dolphins are alive.

If the animals are really being given the best care, then why are their enclosures off-limits to the public? Why were members of the Animal Concerns Education and Research Society of Singapore (ACRES), Earth Island Institute (EII) and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) not allowed to see the animals as they were being trained last 14 November? It is clear that Ocean Adventure and Resorts World Singapore have something to hide, and it is spelled C-R-U-E-L-T-Y.

Signed,

Trixie Concepcion
Regional Director
Earth Island Institute
Email: eiiphils@earthislandph.org

Anna Cabrera
Director
Philippine Animal Welfare Society
Email: philpaws@yahoo.com

( THIS LETTER IS A RESPONSE TO THE ARTICLE WRITTEN BELOW)

Dolphins Bound for Singapore Park Not Endangered
Philippine Daily Inquirer
3:00 am | Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
http://opinion.inquirer.net/17699/dolphins-bound-for-singapore-park-not-...

"We are disappointed that you did not seek our comment before publishing the story, “Set dolphins free, group urges gov’t.” (Inquirer, 11/13/11) Please allow us to provide the background about our dolphins and address some assumptions made.

The species of dolphins that will be housed at our Marine Life Park (MLP) in Singapore is not classified as endangered. Neither are they threatened with extinction. While dolphins in the wild face daily survival tests, there are well established international regulations pertaining to controlled wildlife collections of particular species intended for well-run zoological facilities. We strongly abide by such regulations.

We reiterate that the acquisition of our Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins followed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) requirements. CITES regulates the trade of animals to protect wildlife species from extinction. The movement of marine animals, including dolphins, is governed by the United Nations Environment Programme which upholds the policies of CITES.

Our animals are in good health and given the best care in a well-established facility in the Philippines.

Allow me to correct another misrepresentation in the article: there is no known instance of a dolphin committing suicide verified by any scientific study or necropsy. Suicide is a human act. Projecting human-like intention onto another species is anthropomorphism and has no factual basis.

Dolphins in zoological parks and aquariums live almost twice as long as their counterparts in the wild. They thrive and reproduce well in state-of-the-art facilities that are equipped with medical technologies adapted to give the best care available for their health and welfare.

There will always be divergent views about animals in zoological environments. We respect that. We believe that well-run zoological facilities provide strong and inspiring messages to visitors and can make a tangible difference to animal conservation. Caring for living animals comes with great responsibility. If done correctly, animals can thrive in human care and provide vital conservation and research opportunities.

We were deeply saddened by our loss of two dolphins that succumbed to a water-borne bacterial infection called melioidosis. No expense or effort was spared to save them. Today, the MLP team is involved in melioidosis research to curb this infection which afflicts animals in the wild as well as humans.

MLP has begun to contribute to marine conservation even before its opening. We are a participant in the third veterinary training workshop specializing in treatment techniques for stranded marine mammals. We have also contributed a portable inflation pool to the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network which works directly with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation."

—LIM SOON HUA, director for communications, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098269