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Yet another dolphinarium in the EU?

WDC and partner NGOs are objecting to plans to build yet another captive dolphin facility in Europe. The proposed site for the new dolphinarium facility is the Portuguese island of Madeira where, ironically, whales and dolphins can frequently be spotted living wild in their natural habitat in the waters around the island. Instead, any dolphins held at the facility would face a life performing meaningless tricks in a small concrete tank where they can never hope to cover the vast distances that they do living wild in the sea.

Local people and whale watching operators on the island have already organized demonstrations and an online petition telling local authorities that a facility like this is not welcome on Madeira.

More than 30 NGOs, including WDC, have signed a joint letter to the government, objecting to these plans. 

WDC is encouraging supporters to also write to the Governor of Madeira at either of the following email addresses: [email protected] and [email protected]. We have drafted a text which can be used to express your concerns. You can add to this text if you like, but please be polite.

Thanks for your help. Together we can end the captivity of whales and dolphins in Europe!

Dear Governor Jardim,

With great concern I learned about the plans to build a new dolphinarium in the Marina do Lugar de Baixo at Madeira. Madeira is a beautiful island – and the perfect place to observe free dolphins in their natural environment. Any plans to build a dolphinarium on Madeira should be rejected for the following reasons:

  1. Keeping dolphins in captivity means continuous suffering for these highly social and agile animals. The captive environment is artificial, monotonous and offers extremely limited space; group structure is unnatural and arbitrarily composed; in dolphinaria individuals can’t escape from ear-battering noise during shows and from aggression from pool mates, which can result in serious injuries.

  2. In Madeira, several whale-watching companies are doing a fabulous job by creating public awareness for marine conservation. A dolphinarium, on the other hand, sends an outdated and damaging message by presenting captive dolphins as entertaining clowns. 

  3. A dolphinarium would not create additional income for Madeira, but would directly compete for tourists with the whale-watching companies, and hence would financially damage a prospering, conservation-minded, eco-responsible and sustainable business.

  4. In the past, several other ambitious projects at the Marina do Lugar de Baixo have failed – at least partially due to storms damaging any development there. Any further investments in the Marina are a fundamental financial and security risk. It also doesn’t bear thinking about what would happen to dolphins, kept in tanks there, if the facility was destroyed by future storms.

For all these reasons I respectfully urge you to reject these counterproductive plans to build a dolphinarium in Madeira!


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About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.