Traveling dolphin show: A Christmas gift for whom?

By Anna Maria M. Gonzales

MANILA–How would you feel if your child was taken away from you and made to travel in a small cage and dance everyday for a crowd of hundreds of screaming people? And what if the air around the cage made him go blind, and the din from the music made him go deaf?

And if this happened to somebody else’s child, would you allow your own children to go and watch?

Of course, you won’t. And that is enough reason to NOT go and watch a dolphin show this Christmas.

According to the Earth Island Institute, two dolphins in Indonesia await export to the Philippines. They will be used for a traveling dolphin show by the Indofil Sea Wonders Co Ltd., and will be shown at the parking lot fronting SM at Araneta Center, Cubao. The advertised dates for the show are from 25 December 2010 to 2 January 2011.

Differentiated from the bigger and more expensive ocean parks, traveling dolphin shows are smaller and are actually temporary facilities where dolphins perform for a period of time after which they are moved to their next show location.

Experts such as Dr. AA Yaptinchay of Marine Wildlife Watch Philippines say that the shallow pools where the animals are kept are treated heavily with chlorine as the animals urinate and defecate in the same pools where they perform. Dolphins performing in such shows actually go blind due to prolonged soaking in chlorinated water. The repeated transport of dolphins and other aquatic animals are particularly stressful as these animals have to be immobilized for the entire duration of the travel. Dolphin experts such as Richard O’Barry (star of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove) confirm that dolphins may actually die in the process of being transported. The inferior facilities of traveling shows—shallow chlorinated pools, inappropriate water treatment methods and the stress of the repeated transport of the animals have actually moved countries like the United States to ban traveling dolphin shows. Many other countries in Europe like the United Kingdom have also banned such shows. Latin American countries such as Brazil and Nicaragua have stopped the commercial showing of dolphins and Australia and New Zealand have also prohibited such entertainment in their territories.

There are certainly better ways to teach children about wild animals. The best Christmas gift we can give to our children is the gift of understanding and respect towards wild animals and the natural environment. If we stop these shows, we will give these animals a better chance to survive in the wild.

Our children and our children’s children will then have more opportunities for close encounters with them in their natural environment, and on their own terms.

As parents, we can do the following:

1) Kindly contact Araneta Center to tell them to stop sponsorship of these shows:

Ma. Lorna Datiles-Fabian
Senior Leasing Manager
Araneta Center Inc.
9th Floor, Aurora Tower, Araneta Center
Quezon City 0810, Philippines
Trunk Line: 911-3101 ext. 8313
Direct Line: 912-8668
Fax: 911-5328

2. Contact Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala not to issue the import permits for the dolphins. (Note: Kindly send polite letters, thank you)

Hon. Proceso Alcala
Department of Agriculture
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines (632) 920-4369; (632) 924-1278
Tel/fax: (632) 920-3986; (632) 929-8183928-87-41 loc.2210/2254/2214/2209

Information from:
Dr. AA Yaptinchay, A.G. Saño, EEI Philippines

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