Beluga Whale

Captive animal industry has no place in a civilised community

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am


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How interesting it is to see Ocean Park on the defensive, joining other aquariums in a desperate bid to find a way to justify their outdated existence and paying for a sponsored feature ('Looking to the Future', February 1) to tell us about it.

The vast majority of this 'global community of aquariums' hails from countries where animal welfare is still in its infancy and/or money comes before animal rights.

If you can judge someone by the company they keep, then the list provided is truly eye-opening - the five listed Japanese facilities alone are indirectly responsible for the well-documented capture and slaughter of thousands of dolphins in that country's coastal waters every year.

As Roy Tam of Green Sense points out the same day ('Ocean Park's polar exhibit will contribute to global warming', February 1), nothing justifies the imprisonment of wild animals and the huge use of resources needed in attempts to simulate their natural habitat. No one who has seen Singapore Zoo's pathetic polar bear pacing about his tiny equatorial enclosure would wish such an existence on any other creature. Yet, Ocean Park is going full steam ahead with plans to entrap polar animals and even purchase wild beluga whales from those who profess to own them ('Watch fish swim by as you snack on seafood', January 27).

The current plans are a gross violation of educational duty under the Ocean Park Corporation Ordinance referred to by Mr Tam.

Furthermore, the claim by Suzanne Gendron, executive director of zoological operations and education at the park, ('Ocean Park's exhibits serve important conservation message', February 7) that without these exhibits five million people would be travelling to the polar regions would be laughable if it were not so ridiculous.

Given the outcry over their recent shopping trip to the Solomon Islands, one would hope a rethink of this kind of acquisition would happen, though at that time Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman stated in these pages that there were plenty of dolphins out there and the park could always get them from somewhere.

This 'plenty more fish in the sea' attitude illustrates the park's cavalier attitude to wildlife and lack of understanding of modern global thinking on captive animals; their shrugging off of the deaths of the fish that were being moved from the old aquarium does not bode well for the movement of much larger creatures from halfway around the world.

Unfortunately, there is a huge tank waiting to be filled and paid for; if only common decency would prevail, this tank would remain empty and the captive animal industry would finally start to accept that they have no educational or conservation value, and no place in a civilised society.

Janet Walker, Hong Kong Dolphinwatch