Rumors continue to swirl around proposed plans for a whale and dolphin zoo in Taiji, Japan. An April 30 article in The Japan Times described the plan to “turn part of a local bay into a huge pool where people can swim and kayak along with small whales and dolphins.” Black whales and bottlenose dolphins are named as among the cetacean species to be held captive in the netted 70-acre facility.
Perhaps far more chilling is the notion of whale research being conducted as part of the overall plan. “The town hopes to make the area a center for whale research by inviting research institutions from outside as well.” Japan’s whale research agency, The Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), is most widely know for its illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary as seen on the Animal Planet television show “Whale Wars.”
The Japanese town of Taiji isn’t exactly well known for its humanitarian efforts either. The 2010 Academy-award winning documentary The Cove, starring Ric O’Barry, exposed the bloody dolphin drive hunts that take place annually in the waters of the small fishing village from September to March.
For the past two seasons, volunteers from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Save Japan Dolphins have been in the ground in Taiji to document and raise awareness about the slaughter. Reports from the 2011-12 hunt are that 818 dolphins were driven into the cove. Of those, 719 were killed and 51 were retained for use in the captive entertainment industryincluding marine parks and “swim-with” dolphin programs.
In an article published earlier today by Fox News, a Taiji town official, who declined to be named, told an AFP reporter that the dolphin hunt will continue and that “local residents see no contradiction in both watching and eating dolphins.”