Last year Finland’s last remaining marine park announced it was closing following a shift in public attitudes towards marine captivity and a subsequent decline in attendance. This was great news. However, rumours soon emerged that the park’s four captive dolphins – Veera, Delfi, Leevi and Eevertti – were to be sold to a notorious death park in Greece. Despite protests urging the park to keep the dolphins in Finland until a suitable sea sanctuary could be established, the four cetaceans were shoved into tiny shipping crates and flown to Attica Zoological Park in Athens – a zoo with a shocking animal welfare record. Even though five dolphins have died in Attica’s “care” between 2010 and 2015.
Tragically, this death toll rose to six in January, following the death of Delfi. A necropsy revealed Delfi died of a heart attack. No doubt the stress he experienced from a life spent in captivity and the horrors of being transported in a “flying coffin” from one marine park to another would not have helped his condition.
When Australia for Dolphins heard the heartbreaking news of Delfi’s death, we ramped up pressure on ASL Aviation – the airline responsible for transporting the four dolphins to Attica Zoo.
Thanks to petition signatures and emails from more than 13,000 supporters, ASL Aviation finally agreed to stop transporting dolphins to marine parks. The pledge came directly from the airline’s senior management, who stated: “ASL management, across all ASL airlines, have now made a decision, supported by all, not to transport dolphins unless it is to a sea sanctuary”. They also promised that if there is no sanctuary available, the airline would consider transportation only after consultation with animal welfare organisations such as Australia for Dolphins and WDC – an organisation that campaigned strongly alongside us on this issue.
While this win won’t save Delfi’s family from a life in concrete swimming pools, it is nonetheless a huge step in the right direction. As Australia for Dolphins CEO Sarah Lucas remarks, “It’s encouraging to see airlines like ASL Aviation listen to public concerns, and show real leadership by pledging to do the right thing by dolphins. Hopefully we will begin to see more airlines follow suit by abandoning cruel transportation methods and refusing to transfer dolphins to marine parks.”
Above all, this victory is a great example of the power of YOUR voice. It would not have been possible without the help of caring dolphin advocates like you taking action, and using your voice to speak on behalf of captive dolphins like Delfi. Thank you.
If you’d like to, you can email ASL and thank them for making this important pledge for dolphins at this address: [email protected]