I take a break from all the Moon entries to bring you an entry about dolphins. Specifically, the world’s saddest dolphins.
In a nutshell, Resorts World Sentosa is bringing in these captured-from-the-wild bottlenose dolphins as the star attraction at their Marine Life Park. Two of these dolphins (out of 7) have already died in captivity. ACRES (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) is now urging RWS to re-think their plans and to abort their plans of bringing in these dolphins into a world of captivity.
I am hardly one to be called an ‘animal activist’. Yes, I get horribly upset when I read about animal cruelty cases and cry when animals die in films (and not shedding a tear when the human dies). However, I won’t go as far as to call myself an activist because I think of them as brave humans who stand up and go against the big and strong organisations on behalf of voiceless animals by doing ‘big things’ like fund-raising, writing to the media, etc.
I’m far from that.
I do, however, get upset when I read about how these dolphins were caught from the wild, kept in less-than-stellar surroundings and then, to top it all off, will be brought to RWS – one of our major tourist attractions – to generate profit and tourism arrivals for the organisation and country. You can read the various news articles here.
This makes me mad. Very very mad.
I lecture students in Hospitality & Tourism. One of the topics we discuss are the impacts of tourism on a destination, i.e. political impacts, economic impacts, social/cultural impacts and environmental impacts. And this RWS vs ACRES case is a perfect case study to discuss.
Yes, I read that our government states clearly that RWS needs to ‘comply with global regulations, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), and the requirements of the AVA, to safeguard animal health.’ Isn’t that a motherhood statement? Who’s going to check that this is adhered to?
Dolphins appeal to many people and I am guilty of that as well. I love watching dolphins when visiting theme parks such as SeaWorld at San Diego. I never knew the story behind these dolphins and would simply enjoy the performances ‘as it is’. After reading more about their social behaviour and natural instincts, I am less inclined to want to visit such theme parks anymore.
Of course, having the mega huge a$$ Marine Life Park with the dolphins would be a huge draw for both locals and tourists but at what price? Specifically, at what price, tourism dollars? We already have RWS and MBS with the casinos raking in millions. It’s great for the economy, creates jobs, blah blah blah but what about the negative social/cultural impacts on us? I’ve heard personal stories of gamblers who spend days and nights at the casino, churning up huge debts and turning to loan sharks. I’ve also heard of people who won big at the jackpot machines. Tourism dollars are awesome, no doubt about that but are these benefits outweighing the ills to society and the family unit? I guess one will never know for sure.
But let’s get back to the dolphins.
Whenever we have class discussions about environmental impacts of tourism, students would be up in arms and they’d always bring up the topic of how precious land and resources is taken up and over by tourism developments, i.e. hotels, resorts, attractions, etc. They’d always be two sides to the story: It brings in positive economic benefits, creates jobs, etc etc but on the downside, precious resources are used.
Are we willing to overlook the fact that these wild dolphins are dying and captured for the sake of tourism dollars and tourism arrivals? How would you like being taken away from your family and taken to a foreign land (or sea) to provide amusement and profit for the masses?
I am all for tourism, don’t get me wrong. I think tourism’s great and offers great benefits if carried out responsibly and decently. Just because these dolphins look like they’re smiling and happy doesn’t mean that they are:
(Quote) Did you know that dolphins don’t smile? They can’t express emotions with their facial muscles. Their mouth is just shaped in a way that we humans misinterpret as a smile. So even when a dolphin is suffering from high stress, visitors to marine parks often come away thinking that the dolphin is having a good time. This is usually far from the truth.
So what can I do, I hear you ask?
You can start off by ‘liking’ this Facebook page. If you are a blogger, you can spread the word by writing about it, like what Kirsten and Bookjunkie has done. There are also a few other things you can do.
We saw how social media impacted the recent Elections so don’t believe for a minute that you can’t do anything. SAVE THE DOLPHINS!