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2024 BIG GIVE

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Help us create a Norway for whales and stop whaling.

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Tests reveal captive dolphin choked to death on fake seaweed

Nephele, a dolphin held at Kolmården Zoo in Sweden has died after a piece artificial...

Tests reveal captive dolphin choked to death on fake seaweed

Dolphin in captivity

Nephele, a dolphin held at Kolmården Zoo in Sweden has died after a piece artificial seaweed added to her tank became trapped in her throat.

An autopsy has now revealed that Nephele was unable to breathe properly when the fake seaweed became lodged.

Staff at the facility had added the seaweed to the tank for 'environmental enrichment' reasons and, presumably, to visually enhance the shows that Nephele performed in. It has since been removed.

Nephele was taken from the wild in Florida when she was around nine years old in 1989. She was controversially purchased from another zoo in Germany and brought to Kolmården in 1994. Over 60 dolphins have died there since the dolphin shows opened their gates in 1969. Two years ago the facility announced that it would be closing its dolphin exhibit  down but this has yet to happen and 11 dolphins remain stuck in the indoor tanks there.

This could not be further away from a life outside in an ocean containing real seaweed where Nephele could have roamed for miles each day. Her tragic death illustrates why whales and dolphins should never be held in tiny pools and artificial environments for our 'entertainment'. They may swim endlessly in circles, some lie on the floor of the tank for many hours, chew on the sides of the pool and repeat the same patterns of behaviour over and over.

Ocean sanctuaries are one alternative for whales and dolphins that are currently kept captive in tanks and, as well as helping to establish the world’s first beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland with The SEA LIFE Trust , WDC is also working in partnership with other sanctuary projects. It is hoped these initiatives will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales and dolphins into natural environments around the world.

Please donate today to help end captivity for good.