Animal rights activists in Belgium recently jumped into the water during a dolphin performance at Boudewijn Seapark, near Bruges.
The park, which hosts a “sea life center,” as well as rides, is currently home to six adult dolphins and two calves. It regularly hosts dolphin “presentations” and offers customers in-water experiences.
But activists in the Vegan Strike Group want to see all of this come to an end.
They have already disrupted shows at the park twice. At the end of July, they went for a third attempt. Two people jumped into the water with signs reading “stop animal shows” and “dolphins belong in the sea.”
The protestors in question were arrested, the show was stopped for 30 minutes, and the audience was cleared out. Despite the arrests, Vegan Strike Group says it won’t stop campaigning for an end to Boudewijn’s dolphin performances.
“Dolphins belong in the sea, where they swim large distances every day,” a statement on its Facebook page reads.
“Captive dolphins are kept hungry so that they do what the trainers ask of them during training for a dead fish,” it continues. “In the wild, dolphins only eat live fish that they catch themselves.”
“Dolphins have sonar and use it to navigate but in swimming pools the echoes of their own sonar bounce directly off the wall, which can drive them insane.”
An end to dolphin captivity
According to the Dolphin Project, a dolphin protection nonprofit founded by former animal trainer Richard O’Barry, a number of captive dolphins are put on antidepressants to treat symptoms of frustration that come from living in captivity.
Several countries, states, and cities have banned dolphin shows.
In 2013, India passed legislation against dolphinariums, declaring the animals to be “non-human persons.” And in 2018, Barcelona made the same move. More than 120,000 people have now signed a petition to ban dolphinariums everywhere in Spain.
A number of travel companies have also stopped supporting dolphin attractions. For example, in November of last year, Expedia announced it would no longer sell holiday packages that include captive dolphin or whale shows.