Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Desert dolphins: plan to bring animals to Arizona for show outrages activists

More than 100,000 people signed a petition against a plan for Dolphinaris, which would house dolphins in pools and allow people to swim with and ride them

Oliver Milman 

Monday 25 April 201618.07 BSTLast modified on Monday 25 April 201618.20 BST 

A plan to transport a group of dolphins to the Arizona desert so tourists can pay to frolic with them has come under fire from animal welfare activists who claim the attraction will be harmful to people as well as the dolphins.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition against a plan for a Dolphinaris to be established on tribal land near Scottsdale, Arizona. The facility would house dolphins in pools and allow people to swim with and ride the marine mammals.

Dolphinaris is already established in five locations in Mexico. Its parent company, Ventura Entertainment, is looking to expand to the US with the Arizona attraction, which will be near OdySea in the Desert – a 35-acre complex featuring sharks, turtles and penguins.

OdySea has denied that it is affiliated with the Dolphinaris project. According toreports in the Mexican media, the $20m Dolphinaris development is set to open in July. A protest against the attraction is planned for 7 May.

Opponents of the Dolphinaris argue the hot, dusty environment is no place for dolphins, which would be expected to swim in small, repetitive circles in an area vastly smaller than their natural marine habitat.

The Humane Society said swimming-with-dolphins attractions are also risky for people. There have been reports of confined dolphins biting people and even incidents that resemble sexual assault.

“These animals are used to an environment where they can roam, swimming hundreds of miles a day in a rich environment,” said Sharon Young, marine issues field coordinator at the Humane Society. “Once you put them in a tank, it’s an impoverished existence. It would be like if someone never let you out of your bedroom. There has been some sexual aggression towards swimmers. It’s not a good environment for anyone.”


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