"What's there to hide?" (ACRES, EII-Phils & PAWS sent-out from Ocean Adventure dolphin facility)

By Kathy Moran (The Philippine Star)
Updated November 19, 2011 12:00 AM

Why does it seem that cruelty is easier done when we deal with animals? Don’t they have any rights?

Yes, they do in RA 8485 or the Philippine Animal Welfare Act.

Just as in the case of laws for people, animal laws are also violated and perhaps animal laws are more easily violated than human laws. But that can be contested, too, right?

First there was, and is, the case of the dolphins, which have been used for shows here in Manila and then in Subic. The cruelty stems from the places where they are kept. These places are so small that the dolphins have no place to maneuver about.

Recently, there was news that 25 dolphins are being trained at Ocean Adventure, which will be shipped to Sentosa in Singapore soon.

There is Lolong, the saltwater crocodile who was captured in Agusan. They don’t want to let Lolong go because, first he may do harm to other humans (although, to this day, there is no proof that he has harmed anyone) and then there is that Guinness World Record, which we now hold for having the largest crocodile in captivity.

Just recently I was watching TV and I was so saddened by the Antarctic penguins, that are now among the animals in Ocean Adventure. How is this possible we are in the tropics, and even if we recreate the climate of the Antarctic, surely it is cruel and unnatural to keep these penguins here.

Why are we so cruel to animals? Just so that we can show off?

I have refused any invitation to visit Ocean Adventure or any such place, whether here or out of the country.

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“Ocean Adventure people have something to hide,” Anna Cabrera, executive director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), says.

Anna, Louis Ng, executive director of ACRES (an animal welfare charity based in Singapore), volunteers of Earth Island Institute and a group of animal welfare advocates recently visited the marine park.

Anna shares that they were sent away from the portion of the park that overlooks the enclosures where 25 dolphins being trained for Resorts World Sentosa Island are kept.

That they were sent away is quite strange since they entered the park as visitors and paid the entrance fee. The group was able to walk into the area where there were picnic huts overlooking the pens it is in these pens where the dolphins are being trained.

Visitors of the park with cameras were allowed to take photos, but in the area near the training facility, the guards said that videos were not allowed. When Anna and Louis asked if they could sit and watch by the area, the guards initially said it was okay. But then instructions from the radio came in saying that the visitors should be asked to move away.

Louis and Anna explained that they just wanted to rest by the area and see the dolphins. The guards couldn’t explain why the area was off-limits. Finally, the president and vice president of Ocean Adventure John Corcoran and Gail Laule, respectively, came and asked them to leave without offering an explanation except that the area wasn’t “part of the park.”

“Laule was so adamant about us getting out of the area that she tapped me on the shoulder and could barely restrain herself from trying to get us out,” adds Anna. “It made us wonder what they did not want us to see. Were the dolphins being cruelly treated as part of the ‘training’?”

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We have been told that there are 25 wild-caught dolphins from the Solomon Islands sent to Subic’s Ocean Adventure to be trained and re-exported to Resorts World Park sometime in December. Oddly enough, animal advocates say that officials from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), which regulates the import and export of marine mammals and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)-Animal Welfare Division, have no solid information on the “training facility” within Ocean Adventure. They don’t know whether the dolphins are all still alive or if their welfare is being looked after, these campaigners say.

If what we hear is true, then there is no other word to describe what is happening, but cruel.

Louis Ng has these wise words for us, “To abduct animals from the wild, to rip them from their homes, to snatch them away from their mates and relatives and put them in a box is especially harsh. To use them for entertainment, for generating money from tourist trade that’s downright exploitative.”

What can people do to help dolphins?

Don’t watch a dolphin show.

Lend your voice and support at www.saddestdolphins.com.