Twenty-seven dolphins destined for a Singapore casino resort are at the centre of a court battle after an animal welfare group accused it of contributing to the depletion of the species.
The mammals, from the Solomon Islands, have been purchased by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and are currently in the Philippines for training, where they will remain until they are shipped to its marine park next year.
The Singapore-based Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) released a video on Friday on the depletion of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins from the islands as it intensified a campaign for Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to release the animals – two of which have already died.
RWS acquired 27 dolphins from the Solomons between 2008 and 2009 despite the availability of information “advising against the purchase”, ACRES said in a statement.
It cited a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature which said that catching dolphins from the islands would be detrimental to the survival of the species there.
This week a Philippine court temporarily blocked their transport to Singapore following a civil suit filed by animal rights activists.
They alleged the dolphins’ capture from the Solomon Islands violated an international treaty on the trade of endangered animals and plants.
However, the Philippine government said on Thursday it has approved the export of the dolphins after the ban on transporting them was lifted.
Resorts World “should have performed due diligence before they acquired the dolphins”, said ACRES chief executive Louis Ng, who called for the animals to be released back into the wild.
There was no immediate comment from RWS on the ACRES allegation.
But in a statement issued on Wednesday relating to the Philippine court ban it said: “Our dolphins are doing well under the care of our team of experienced experts, and we look forward to welcoming them to Singapore.”
The park is set to open without them later this year.
It also disputed allegations it had contravened international treaties in acquiring the dolphins.
It accused the group that initiated the court action in the Philippines of “perpetuating the same falsehoods that we had repeatedly made numerous clarifications and corrections to in the past”.