Process fails dolphins in Bruges

On 30th January, Belgium’s Animal Welfare Board announced the results of many months of deliberation by a dolphin working group established in 2011 to look at existing standards for captive dolphins in Belgium. There is one dolphinarium in Belgium in Bruges, Boudewijn SeaPark, which currently holds six bottlenose dolphins in captivity for shows and interaction programmes.

As noted in the Board’s press release, the published opinion of the group reflects a compromise between those involved, which included animal welfare organisations and dolphinarium industry representatives. Two of those groups, however, Planète Vie and Sea First Foundation, felt unable to endorse the group’s opinion, in spite of the time and commitment they had given the group’s work and WDC can understand why.

The dolphin working group’s recommendations fail to recognise welfare problems such as stress or stereotypic behaviour as problems for captive dolphins, in spite of evidence to the contrary, including that obtained through observations of the dolphins held in Bruges. Furthermore, they appear to offer nothing that would contribute to dolphin health and welfare beyond recommending that measures are taken to bring the dolphinarium in line with Belgian law on dolphinarium pool size and the EU Zoos Directive, including a varied, enriched environment (although the captive environment can never mirror the diversity bottlenose dolphins would experience in the wild), the establishment of an education programme and participation in scientific research, suggesting the facility is currently in breach of national and EU law. Their focus appears to be on satisfying the demands of the public on dolphin captivity rather than improvements in dolphin health and welfare. Perhaps luckily, public opinion is shifting away from supporting facilities like Boudewijn Park. A petition has been developed calling on the relevant Belgian Minister not to support the group’s recommendations and to develop strict legislation on dolphin captivity.

WDC continues to call on countries like Belgium to develop legislation to phase out dolphin captivity, including by prohibiting the development of further dolphinaria and the import of further dolphins.



Dolphins and all Cetaceans have a place in the wild ecosystem, where they have the freedom to utilize their instincts and high intelligence to live their own lives with no threat to humans. However, when humans, Cetaceans, and other animals are captured, separated from their families & their familiar, life-giving environment, their ability to live their lives suffers dramatically leading to stress, illnesses, depression, & eventually death. This is something easily identifiable in every day life. I ask you to at least strictly regulate Dolphin captivity, and set the beautiful, intelligent Dolphins free from a miserable life in captivity.

Men has supposedly evolved...treat creatures right..all part of the ecosystem..all have feelings

This needs to be adressed in Sweden as well!

Add United States as well...

Captivity is inhumane & torturous to these social animals. They need to be with their pods - out in the oceans living free, not in "fish bowls", living in isolation, doing tricks for frozen dead fish for human entertainment! If you support captivity, then you also support the barbaric slaughter that occurs to the rest of their pod! Stop the insanity now. Learn more about this cruelty and abuse.

All animals should be free. Captivity is wrong dolphins should be in the ocean with their pod. Not in goldfish bowls like seaworld ets. By supporting these places you are supporting the killings going on in places such as Taiji the cove. If you havent heard of this i suggest you do your research. Then reevaluate your opinion.

One would think that we humans would have learned our lessons by now about slavery. It is not right for us to inflict our wills on the cetaceans from the world's oceans. They do not belong to us. They belong to their families, in the oceans and in their pods. The aquarium type places all cause the death of dolphins in Taiji because without the demand for more cetaceans the fishermen in Taiji would not be capturing them and killing them. Cetaceans belong in the deep blue seas.

Please phase out all dolphins and whales in captivity! Every time you buy tickets to a place that animal has to in the bathtub you support all the dolphin killings in all the Coves around the world

Dolphins should not be bred in captivity. They should not be taken from the wild (Taiji, Japan). Any dolphin that is presently in captivity should be evaluated (by a professional) to see if they can be released first into a seapen, and then into the open ocean. Any dolphins that do not pass the evaluation, should be able to live out the rest of their lives in a seapen. There is no way, in this day and age, that dolphins should be held captive to do stupid tricks or "swim with" programs so that marine parks can get rich off the backs of these dolphins. Captivity should be a thing of the past, just as slavery is a thing of the past. Every time a marine mammal is taken from the ocean, the ocean dies a little bit more. Enough is enough already !!!

Following some rumours, Beachie will be transfered to another park. He is sick (lunges) and depressive. Since his transfer from the sea to Seaworld, then to Harderwijk then to Bruges, Beachie was feeling lonely and sad. It was a shock for him. He suddenly found himself in a small, limited and dark environment. He was living in a sea pen under the sun and the wind in the Netherlands with several other males, and the poor Beachie had to learn new tricks, new ways to obey and to survive alone, isolated, along with aggressive dominant females and fearful juveniles, under the sinister dome of the Boudewijn Seapark.
The air he was breathing was not the same either: the sea wind blowing on Harderwijk was replaced by a chlorine-loaded atmosphere, that takes you by the throat as soon as you enter the dark dome of the dolphinarium. Bad for your lungs when you are not used to it. But Bruges Dolphinarium doesn't care. The new advice givves it 12 years to react and many dolphins to import...