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Help end New Zealand's Captive Dolphin Industry

17 May 2006

Help end New Zealand's Captive Dolphin Industry

New Zealanders opposed to the keeping of dolphins in captivity are being encouraged to join a campaign to stop Napier City Council replacing Shona, the dolphin who died at Napier Marineland last month.

The 'Captive for an Audience' campaign has been organised by international animal welfare group the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) together with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and New Zealand organisations, SPCA, Project Jonah and SAFE.

The postcard campaign urges Napier City Council, owners of Napier Marineland, to phase out the use of captive dolphins on welfare grounds. Napier Marineland is the only facility in the country with a captive dolphin programme.

WSPA New Zealand Manager Kimberly Muncaster, said the captive dolphin facility at Napier Marineland seriously compromised New Zealand's progressive stance on marine animal welfare.

Ms Muncaster said a dolphin's 'smile' was a feature of their anatomy not a reflection of their health or emotional state.

"New Zealanders need to look behind the dolphins' 'smile' to the suffering that life in captivity brings these animals. The physical and psychological suffering of captive dolphins is immense," she said.

"Dolphins are far-ranging, fast moving, deep-diving predators. In the wild they travel hundreds of kilometres a day, reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres an hour and dive a hundred metres deep. They are also highly social mammals which form close and complex relationships with their podmates."

"Even if Napier Marineland remodelled and expanded their dolphin enclosure, it would never be a substitute for the ocean," she said.

More than 60 dolphins have died at Napier Marineland since it opened in 1965. Alarmingly, half of the world's captive dolphins die due to the cruelty of their capture and confinement, with intestinal disease, chlorine poisoning and stress related illness among the causes of death.

"I urge all New Zealanders to join our campaign to end this suffering. Now is the time to bring New Zealand in line with other countries which respect the welfare of these amazing animals."

Copies of the campaign postcards are available from the campaign organisers or from WSPA's website, www.wspa.org.nz.

ENDS

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