16 February 2013

Dolphin circus in Bali closed

Amid mounting public pressure demanding the government to stop the exploitation of dolphins for entertainment, the forestry minister finally caved in.

On Wednesday afternoon, he visited Akame Dolphin Bay Restaurant, a tourist spot near Benoa Port, and announced that he would shut down its dolphin attraction. He ordered his staff to confiscate the dolphins and to move them to the Dolphin Rehabilitation Center in Kemujan, Karimun Jawa, as soon as possible.

The floating restaurant, which is shaped like a ship and has a 130 square-meter pool in the middle, attracted hundreds of tourists who came to watch the dolphin show every day at the facility that was opened four months ago.

The 1.7 meter-long dolphins were estimated to be seven to nine years old. They were caught in the northern part of Java sea. The Akame Dolphin bay restaurant had pocketed a permit that was issued by Wesut Seguni Indonesia, a Central Java based conservation organization. The management of Akame Dolphin Bay Restaurant had placed the dolphins in a bad environment. Indonesia is regarded as home to the world’s last remaining traveling dolphin circuses. Indonesian dolphins (bottlenose and stenella species) are protected under a government regulation on plant and animal preservation that was issued in 1999.

There are two other facilities in Bali that still offer dolphin attractions, one at Serangan Island in Denpasar and another one at the Melka Hotel in Lovina.
These captive dolphins are mostly bottlenose and stenella dolphins, classified under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a protected species.

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