The Asia for Animals coalition is deeply concerned to hear of the recent construction of another dolphinarium on the popular tourist island of Phuket, Thailand.
Sadly this is not the first dolphinarium in Phuket- Pattaya Dolphin World holds three dolphins in captivity in a 'swim-with dolphins' pool, including two critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and a Indo-Pacific humpback.
The marine mammal industry is big business and is driven by the attraction for people to see these amazing and iconic animals up close and, in many cases, to swim or interact with them. However, life in a marine park is totally unsuitable for these animals.
Life in a tank
A life in a tank is so far removed from a dolphin's natural environment that the effect this has on their mental and physical state is almost inconceivable.
In the wild, cetaceans live in social groups, but in captivity many are kept alone and mothers and calves are regularly separated.
They are intelligent and wide-ranging animals, swimming up to 60 miles a day, and can attain speeds up to 22 mph and dive to depths to over one thousand feet!
Captivity presents a lack of the social, visual and auditory stimuli of their natural environment. Tanks used to house dolphins are "concrete" environments with no variety, no texture, no substance and no depth. The water is chemically-treated, meaning that no live fish or plants can be placed inside, thus leaving the tank barren, with no mental stimulation. These chemicals can potentially cause ulcers and skin lesions.
A life in captivity has a devastating effect on a dolphin's welfare, resulting in abnormal behaviours, injury, illness, and, in some cases, premature deaths.