Captive dolphins plan for Thailand

The recent announcement that a Canadian investor has sought provincial support for his plan to develop a 900-million-baht aquarium, resort and retail facility in Rawai has generated much debate over the ethics of keeping dolphins in captivity.

Soon after the announcement that dolphin performances were slated to be among the attractions at the aquarium, forum comments and letters arguing passionately against the practice arrived on the Phuket-based Gazette Online and at the Phuket Gazette offices in large numbers.

Holding dolphins in captivity unfairly sentences these intelligent creatures to a highly artificial and unhealthy existence, in surroundings enormously different from their natural environment, the authors said.

Shortly after the release of their news article on the proposed project, the investor, Daniel McDaniel, contacted the Gazette to explain that the project would include a science center and marine petting zoo, all part of a commitment to raise public awareness and increase education about marine life and the environment that sustains it.

While not arguing the accuracy of the description, he commented that the term “performing animals” as used in the Phuket Gazette article tended to convey a negative impression, as evidenced by the more than 50 negative comments in their online readers’ forum.

The Gazette said that it empathizes with Mr McDaniel as a Phuket-supportive entrepreneur and as sincere man with no ill will toward dolphins.

And with the backing of Rawai Mayor Aroon Solos, it seems likely that his project will eventually be approved. After all, animal welfare issues don’t often factor into the decision-making process when elected local officials consider approval of projects with high potential for tourism.

Source: Phuket Gazette

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