Dear Mr Michael Pell, Executive Producer of Sunrise,
Re: Promotion of Dolphin Bay Atlantis, Dubai
I am writing on behalf of Australia for Dolphins (‘AFD’), a not-for-profit animal welfare organisation, to request Sunrise cease promoting facilities with captive dolphins taken from the wild.
In a recent segment, Sunrise actively promoted Dolphin Bay Atlantis, a park which has been the subject of recent controversy over its acquisition of 24 dolphins from the Solomon Islands’ drive hunts. These hunts attracted so much public criticism the Solomon Islands has now banned the capture of dolphins for export.
There are strong animal welfare concerns for dolphins at Dolphin Bay Atlantis and an advertisement from Virgin Holidays promoting the park as a “research and rescue facility” was recently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain.
Moreover, a recent independent poll shows the majority of Australians oppose dolphin captivity on principle.
Many corporate groups such as the Sydney Swans, Lion Nathan, Schweppes, Virgin and TripAdvisor have distanced themselves from the animal entertainment industry recently, and we urge Sunrise to now do the same.
We hope that bringing this to your attention will give Sunrise the opportunity to rethink this affiliation.
Public opinion on dolphin captivity
A recent Galaxy poll conducted between Thursday 17 September and Sunday 20 September 2015 found that four out of five Australians are not in favour of dolphin captivity, and two out of three Australians directly oppose dolphin captivity.
This result reflects global trends across the vast majority of OECD nations. For example, SeaWorld, the major marine park chain in the United States, reported significantly lower attendance rates and an 84% drop in profits this financial year. SeaWorld also committed to no longer sourcing whales and dolphins from the wild – a commitment that Dubai Atlantis Dolphin Bay has not made.
Following a public campaign by Australia for Dolphins, Black Cove, and Animals Australia, Village Roadshow and Sea World cancelled a multi-million dollar expansion into China. We believe this reflects the strength of opposition amongst Australians to dolphin captivity.
Studies have shown dolphins can travel more than one hundred kilometres a day in the wild and have complex social structures. In captivity these needs cannot be met due to forced interaction with people, as well as limited space to move. Critically acclaimed documentaries such as Blackfish have added to growing public sentiment that cetaceans cannot be kept in captivity humanely.
World-renowned animal behaviouralist Dr Jane Goodall, points out why dolphins, as a species, are particularly unsuited to captivity.
Political opposition to dolphin captivity
Dolphin captivity has already been banned, or legislative reform to ban cetacean captivity is already underway, in a growing number of countries including the UK, Finland, Switzerland, Canada, India, and the US. It is inevitable that Australia will follow suit in the not too distant future.
In December 2015 former NSW Premier Bob Carr voiced his opposition to dolphin captivity, and announced intentions to pursue legislation to end dolphin captivity in Australia in 2016.
As mentioned above, when the dolphins were flown from the South Pacific to Dubai, the export caused such controversy the Solomon Islands’ government banned future captures and exports of dolphins.
Australia for Dolphins would like to respectfully request that Sunrise end its affiliation with captive dolphin facilities such as Dolphin Bay Atlantis, that stock their pools with dolphins stolen from the wild.
Thank you very much for considering our request and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss any of these concerns.
Advocacy Director | Australia for Dolphins