The market for dolphinaria in Russia and China is booming. So it comes to no surprise that the operator of the Sea World Park in Queensland, Australia (a different company to SeaWorld in the US), wanted to expand its business to China, Russia and Southeast Asia. China for instance has only limited animal protection laws and imports large numbers of wild-caught dolphins from the cruel drive hunts in Japan and belugas from Russia as well as, more recently, wild-caught orcas from Russia.
Supporters of Animals Australia and Australia for Dolphins asked Sea World Australia’s parent company Village Roadshow via hundreds of emails not to “buy into animal cruelty overseas”. On November 19, 2015 the company announced: “Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP) has recently ended the agreement to manage the proposed marine theme park development in China on Hainan Island.”
In an article published by the Australian newspaper Gold Coast Bulletin, a spokesman of Village Roadshow stated: “No cetaceans will be sourced from wild stocks at any park Village Roadshow Theme Parks manages nor are there any plans to house orcas”.
This pledge follows the example of Virgin Holidays after a WDC campaign asking tour operators to stop selling trips to SeaWorld and other marine parks. Although the company hasn’t stopped advertising and selling trips to facilities holding whales and dolphins in captivity, in 2014 it announced the pledge as “a commitment by Virgin suppliers to no longer take receipt of cetacea which have been taken from the wild, after 14th February 2014”. The pledge also extends to the offspring of these wild-caught cetaceans.
While the pledge is a step forward, the work continues: Not only are wild-caught whales and dolphins suffering in concrete tanks, WDC is also calling for the breeding of whales and dolphins for entertainment to be phased out. Nowadays there are so many opportunities to see marine mammals in their natural environment and even bring them to our living rooms via documentaries or animated displays. There is no need to keep highly intelligent and social individuals in tanks in order to educate future generations – and especially not for people’s entertainment.