A high-level Environment Ministry panel has asked the State Governments not to grant permission for dolphinariums after animal rights organisations voiced concern about the welfare of wild species to be held captive in such proposed private facilities.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the statutory body under the Environment Ministry, also asked the Chief Wildlife Wardens of States to withhold permission to any persons, Government or private players that proposes to import any Cetacean species for commercial exhibition or research purposes.

Dolphinariums are commercial captive facilities that house wild dolphins that have been captured “through cruel methods like drive captures”, says FIAPO, an animal rights organisation.

Recently proposals for dolphinariums had come up in Kochi, Sindhudurg and Noida and the animal rights organisations, including FIAPO, had presented comprehensive evidence based on scientific research on issues involved in keeping dolphins captive.

Welcoming the AWBI advisory, Puja Mitra, FIAPO’s campaign manager said, “This move of the AWBI’s is a big step forward to ensure that India never has captive dolphins — a barbaric practice that is fast being phased out internationally.”

“Additionally, dolphinariums have absolutely no conservation or educational value,” she said in a statement.

India’s only brush with dolphins in captivity was in the late 1990’s in Chennai’s Dolphin City exhibit, where four dolphins were imported from Bulgaria and died within a few months due to lack of care and suitable infrastructure.

A number of countries such as the UK, Brazil and Chile have banned dolphins in captivity.

(This article was published on January 8, 2013)
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