(Earth Island Institute Philippines issued a joint statement last February 27, 2017 with the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, Balyena.org, and Sea Shepherd on the recent fiasco at Ocean Adventure Subic.)
Environment and animal welfare groups ask government to investigate condition of animals at dolphin park in Subic
The long-standing management row at Ocean Adventures (OA) in Subic has now escalated to armed men entering the facility and forcibly evicting some100 park employees. Two factions now claim ownership of the facility, one under a certain Arthur Tai, and the other under a certain Scott Sharpe.
As the two factions battle to take control over the facility, animal welfare groups and environmentalists are concerned with regard to the condition of the animals at the park. The Earth Island Institute (EII), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP), Balyena.org and Sea Shepherd has asked the Bureau of Animal Industries to look into the state of the animals. Ocean Adventure uses dolphins and sea lions for its shows.
In a letter dated 24 February 2017, the groups asked the BAI to exercise its monitoring powers to determine if the facility can still abide by the law in providing adequate care for the animals. The groups said they are willing to support any action by the government toward the welfare of the animals in park.
The operation of Ocean Adventure has been controversial from the very beginning. Dolphins used by OA for show come from the inhumane dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan which was featured in the 2010 Oscar winning documentary, The Cove. The hunts have been receiving international condemnation and in May 2015, advocates have scored a major victory when the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) banned their members from getting dolphins in Taiji.
In the Philippines, environmentalists filed cases against OA for the violation of environment and animal welfare laws in the Philippines in 2001.
The park has also been continuously plagued by animal deaths. None of the six false killer whales imported into the country in 2001 has survived to adulthood with the last whale, named Tonka, dying in 2014. One sea lion and five bottlenosed dolphins have also died in the facility, lending credence to the claim of environmentalists that marine mammals do not live long in captivity.
In 2014, its ex-Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Desmond was convicted by a local court for Estafa and has since been in hiding to elude the warrant of arrest issued by the local court.
Environmentalists are urging the public to stop watching dolphin shows and instead support genuine eco-tourism activities such as whale and dolphin watching tours. Such activities result in genuine education for tourists, respect for the environment which benefits the communities and have less impact on the environment.
For reference: Trixie Concepcion, Regional Director, Earth Island Institute Philippines