In an Australian-first lawsuit, AFD has initiated legal proceedings against a marine park called Dolphin Marine Magic.
This is the place where a baby dolphin named Ji died after swallowing metal and leaf litter in his pool. It’s also the park where a very elderly dolphin, who is in remission from cancer, has been confined in concrete pools for 47 years. And dolphins are forced to drag tourists around on rides.
Both the Veterinary Practitioners Board and the NSW government are currently investigating Dolphin Marine Magic. Now more than 150,000 AFD supporters have upped the ante – by helping take on this marine park in a court of law.
On its website and in media statements Dolphin Marine Magic makes many claims which AFD believes are misleading.
One of these claims is that their animals are “happy and healthy”.
In reality there is a large body of science showing dolphins’ complex needs cannot be met in captivity.
Studies show dolphins in the wild often have home ranges of up to 100 square kilometres. But in NSW dolphins can be held in pools only 0.0002% this size.
Dolphins are also incredibly intelligent. When confined in swimming pools they can become stressed and aggressive, lashing out in frustration.
If people knew this sad reality, we think it’s unlikely they would buy a ticket to marine parks.
Dolphin Marine Magic also claims its enclosures meet or exceed the size requirements laid out in NSW legislation. AFD will argue this claim is likely to mislead the public, given its dolphin show pool and seal pool do not meet the legal standards as laid out in state legislation. Indeed, the dolphin show pool is 20% smaller than the minimum dimensions specified. Meanwhile, the seal pool is only compliant for 6 seals, but is crowded with 11.
The lawsuit also argues Dolphin Marine Magic is not accurate in stating “rehabilitation is at the heart of everything” they do. We’re alleging this statement is misleading because it suggests rehabilitation is at the heart of everything the park does (including, for instance, entertainment shows, or “swim with the dolphins” experiences), when we strongly believe this is not the case.
According to documents obtained through freedom of information, the park has only taken in one rescue dolphin in recent years.
The law around misleading or deceptive statements is – for good reason – very protective. This enables millions of transactions to take place every day, with people safe in the knowledge that suppliers are held to a stringent test of honesty.
Whenever you buy goods or services in Australia, you are protected by Australian Consumer Law. This is a law specifically designed to safeguard the public from misleading and deceptive advertising.
It’s illegal to sell someone “free range” eggs, when in fact the hens never see sunlight, or promote a “green” detergent when in reality it’s not environmentally friendly.
Similarly, our case alleges it’s also against the law to tell people dolphins in your care are “happy and healthy” in captivity, when scientific evidence suggest dolphins cannot thrive in concrete pools.
The legal case is about exposing the truth and ensuring marine parks like Dolphin Marine Magic are honest about what life is really like for dolphins in captivity.