Chile - dolphin captivity banned!

WDCS is delighted at the news that Chile has banned the capture and display of Chilean dolphins. The new regulations, signed by the Chilean Government earlier this month, prohibit the commercial display of all cetacean species, sea lions and marine turtles.

WDCS has been heavily involved in efforts to prevent the development of the dolphinarium industry in Chile.

In 1995, two dolphins were exported from Cuba to Chile and held in captivity in a public display facility. Unfortunately, staff at the facility had no prior experience of keeping dolphins in captivity and, within the first few weeks, one of the dolphins died. Following this incident, the filter systems in the pool where the surviving dolphin, 'Menique', was held stopped functioning and the water became more and more dirty. Menique stopped eating and it was feared that it would only be a matter of time before he died too. Concern for the plight of Menique raised international interest in the issue and led the Chilean Authorities to allow Menique to return to Cuba in 1997 to enter a rehabilitation programme pending release into the wild. This was only made possible with the co-operation of the Chilean government. Sadly, Menique died at the National Aquarium in Cuba in 1998, never having recovered from the conditions he had suffered in captivity.

In 1999, the Chilean authorities prevented the import of three dolphins to Santiago for display in captivity. Following this, a resolution was introduced placing strict controls on the import of all cetacean species into Chile. WDCS continues to congratulate the efforts of the Chilean Government to deny permits for dolphin captures and imports over the last five years. We now send our congratulations to SUBPESCA, Chile's marine fisheries management agency, for the implementation of the new regulations which prohibit the capture of Chilean dolphins for public display and also prohibit holding and export.

The live capture and trade in wild-caught dolphins continues in other parts of the world, where they are sold for display in marine parks, so a growing number of tourists can see, feed, touch and swim with them. WDCS asks all those concerned about the welfare and conservation of dolphins around the world not to visit marine parks and aquaria where dolphins are held captive.