Captivity in the EU - Hungary

After a long-running campaign, the ban in the trade of Black Sea dolphins resulted in the end of keeping dolphins in captivity in Hungary.

Even though captive dolphin displays fall under the jurisdiction of national zoo legislation in Hungary there’s no legislation providing specific standards for the keeping of dolphins in captivity in Hungary.

In 1992 five former military dolphins from the former Sovjet Union were flown to Hungary for public display. They were held in a swimming pool set up by a businessman looking to make money from dolphin shows. 

Very soon two of the dolphins died, two others were reported floating apathetically on the pool’s surface while the fifth animal continued to perform for crowds. Concerned witnesses contacted animal welfare activists to organize veterinarians to examine the animals. There was also a significant media response to the horrible conditions of the dolphins’ confinement. It was also revealed that these marine animals were being held in fresh water. 

The three surviving dolphins were confiscated soon after these revelations and, in spite of their ordeal, managed to recover and were returned to Ukraine, their country of origin. This tragedy was the starting point for a long-running campaign to bring about a ban on the trade in bottlenose dolphins from the Black Sea – which was finally achieved in 2002. 

Since then, there have been no more captive dolphins held in Hungary.