An international non-profit animal welfare organization is calling on the Queensland government to permanently ban captive breeding of dolphins at Sea World on the Gold Coast.
“We want these dolphins at Sea World to be the last generation captive in Queensland. The acceptance of dolphin sites like this is disappearing,” senior campaign manager for World Animal Protection Ben Pearson told nine.com.au.
The Gold Coast site is only one of only two captive dolphin sites in Australia, and with more than 30 dolphins on site, it is one of the largest in the world.
The other location is Dolphin Marine Magic in Coffs Harbour.
“We’re not talking about closing Sea World, we’re not talking about damaging Queensland’s economy, we’re saying you can’t justify breeding,” Mr Pearson said.
“One of the problems with captive breeding is that you can’t release them into the wild.
“Sea World needs to start thinking about a marine reserve and continue to operate as a rescue and rehabilitation center. This is a conversation we are already having with Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in Coffs Harbor and it is time for Sea World to act.”
However, Sea World has defended its breeding program, saying its work has focused on conservation.
“While we are aware that some people do not support the idea of animals in human care, we are proud of our passionate team, our world-class facilities and our position as a global leader in conservation and education,” a spokesperson told nine. .com.au.
“The majority of our dolphins are born at Sea World as part of our managed breeding program, which has been in place for many years.
“Some of the animals are third generation and others were transferred to Sea World many years ago when other facilities in Australia and New Guinea were closed.
“The dolphins at Sea World live in social groups and play and communicate with each other like they do in the wild. All breeding at Sea World is done as part of a managed breeding program and is done naturally.”
Pearson said Sea World’s breeding program went against the basic principle of conservation and said bottlenose dolphins are not endangered.
“There’s nothing about this that’s about conservation,” he said.
“If they rescued a dolphin in the wild and rehabilitated them and then put them back into the wild, they would have our support, but captive breeding doesn’t.”
“A dolphin in captivity can live for 50 years. In the wild, a bottlenose dolphin would swim 100 km per day, it can dive 450 meters. They have a rich marine environment. A small concrete pool at Sea World cannot replicate that in any way.
“Ironically, one of the biggest threats to dolphins in the wild is things like the Taiji Dolphin Hunt in Japan where they capture dolphins in the wild to show them at dolphin sites. Now Sea World doesn’t do that, they don’t take captive dolphins of dolphin hunting, but showing these animals in a tank indirectly endorses these practices,” said Mr. Pearson.
The Queensland government said it supported Sea World.
“Sea World currently holds an exhibition license under the Exhibited Animal Act 2015Agriculture and Fisheries Secretary Mark Furner told nine.com.au.
“Sea World is approved for keeping a maximum number of dolphins and breeding is allowed provided they do not exceed the maximum number allowed.”
However, the Queensland government declined to comment on whether it will address the World Animal Protection petition.
The World Animal Protection petition has garnered 5,500 signatures since its launch yesterday. It has not said when the petition will be presented to the Queensland government.
“We hope that the Queensland Government will come very soon, in which case we will exceed the petition. If they refuse, we’ll leave the petition as long as possible and then submit it to them,” Pearson said.