The dolphin snatchers: Mail investigation exposes vile trade where animals are sold for up to £100,000 each to aquariums where they suffer unimaginable cruelty

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For the men wearing wetsuits wading in a shallow bay teeming with trapped wild dolphins, the decision is as simple as it is ruthless. Running their hands carefully over each dolphin’s body, they check to ensure the creature is free from scars, particularly on the dorsal and tail fins.

At first glance this human interaction with one of the few creatures said to possess an intellect close to our own appears an act of caring tenderness. But in reality, these are businessmen selecting their merchandise for a multi-million-pound trade in live dolphins. The best specimens (usually young females, or cows) are removed from their families to be sold live for between £50,000 and £100,000 each to aquariums.

The dolphins they reject — the ones with minor blemishes on their skin — are slaughtered where they are trapped in that cove at Taiji on the south coast of Japan.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – Discretion advised when scrolling down!

The cruel sea: A dolphin selected for sale last month in Japan. Others that are 'not suitable' are killed

The cruel sea: A dolphin selected for sale last month in Japan. Others that are ‘not suitable’ are killed

In a frenzy of violence that has shocked animal lovers and marine environmentalists around the world, some are speared repeatedly by fisherman circling in motorboats whose propellers often slice the dolphins’ skin. Others are simply held underwater to drown.

Sometimes, a metal pole is rammed into their blubber in the hope of shattering the mammal’s spine. A cork stopper is then hammered into the hole where the rod was forced in, to try to reduce the blood spilt into the sea — to conceal the extent of the slaughter.

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The rejects are slaughtered for their meat. Some are speared repeatedly by fisherman circling in motorboats whose propellers often slice the dolphins’ skin

Invariably a few dolphins try to make a break for freedom and attempt to jump over the netting that seals off the bay.

However, amid the blood-red waters almost all of them eventually succumb to their fate. These barbaric scenes took place just before Christmas, during a hunting season when Japanese fishermen ‘harvest’ dolphins to supply to aquariums for human entertainment.

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Killer cove: The dolphins they reject – the ones with minor blemishes on their skin – are trapped in a cove at Taiji on the south coast of Japan

It is estimated that for every wild dolphin caught to be trained to perform tricks in captivity, around four times that number are slaughtered.

The fishermen then sell off the meat for about £10 a kilo. They see the creatures as a menace because they pose a threat to the dwindling reserves of fish in the Pacific Ocean.

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Blood red: Japanese fishermen collect the bodies of harpooned dolphins from the bloody waters of a bay in Taiji

But for those that survive the slaughter, life might as well be over.The stress a dolphin suffers as a result of being captured, transported and imprisoned in a small tank dramatically reduces its lifespan

While wild dolphins live for up to 60 or 70 years, captured ones often perish when they are as young as eight, say environmentalists.

According to marine experts, some dolphins are so distressed by their capture that they commit suicide.

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The odds: For every wild dolphin caught to be trained to perform tricks in captivity, around four times that number are slaughtered

One of the most vocal campaigners against the practice is also one of the most knowledgeable — he is the very man who helped create and promote the worldwide aquarium industry.

Ric O’Barry became famous in the Sixties as the on-screen trainer of the five dolphins that played Flipper in the popular U.S. TV series, which was also hugely successful in Britain.

For ten years he worked at Miami Seaquarium, where he trained the wild mammals after capturing them on hunting expeditions in the Pacific.

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Rounding them up: Fishermen drive bottle-nose dolphins into a net during their annual hunt off Taiji. The ‘drive hunt’ involved five or six large fishing vessels sailing out to sea to find a pod of dolphins

But when Kathy, the main dolphin that played Flipper, died in his arms after apparently losing the will to live, he says it dawned on him how cruel captivity is for such intelligent and social creatures.

For the past 40 years he has travelled the world highlighting the plight of dolphins in amusement parks, and even releasing them from those parks into the wild, often getting arrested in the process.

Three years ago, he made a documentary called The Cove, which revealed the truth about the ‘drive hunts’ that take place at Taiji in Japan. Yet since then, the practice has continued unabated — as these photographs demonstrate only too graphically.

O’Barry, 73, says live dolphins taken from the waters in Japan are shipped to aquariums and ‘swim-with-dolphin’ centres mostly in the Far East. Speaking from his home in Miami, O’Barry says: ‘Taiji is the number one location to get dolphins for the dolphinarium industry — or what I called “abusement parks”.’

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Some dolphins are so distressed by their capture that they commit suicide. the stress that they suffer as a result of being captured dramatically shortens their lifespan

Although there are no international laws banning the shipment of live dolphins to those countries prepared to accept them, O’Barry claims the dolphins undergo terrible suffering.

‘After enduring a painfully long period of transportation, they are put into often filthy and confined conditions at aquariums. ‘These are free-ranging creatures with a large brain whose primary sense is sound.

‘Some have been placed in aquariums at casinos where the noise is appalling. These environments are hell-holes to creatures used to the open seas and which often swim up to 100 miles in a day in search of food. ‘They are taken away from the two most important aspects of their life — the world of oceanic sound and their families. ‘They end up suffering depression. I believe they are also capable of trying to commit suicide.’

Two years ago at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in south-western Japan, hundreds of tourists at a marine show looked on in astonishment as a large dolphin rose up out of the water tank to balance precariously on the glass barrier of the aquarium. It then threw itself out of the water on to the ground.

Touchingly, the other dolphins in the tank swam to the glass wall to look at the plight of their companion, called Kuru (meaning ‘black’). The dolphin was eventually put into a huge tarpaulin sling and winched by a crane back into the water.

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The hunt is on: Taiji’s fishermen are licensed by the national government to catch 2,100 dolphins and pilot whales in the six-month hunting season

The incident was filmed by an appalled American tourist, who passed the footage on to O’Barry. While many thought the mammal was trying to make a break for freedom, O’Barry believes it was more likely it wanted to commit suicide.

‘It was depressed and wanted to end it,’ O’Barry says, adding that it had been in captivity for six years after being taken from the wild. ‘I have seen it many, many times. They are living in a world of sensory deprivation, then bombarded with a wall of noise from the crowd.’

After the clip was made public the aquarium managers immediately issued a statement saying the dolphin was ‘playing around’ and suffered minor scratches and bruises on its head and fin. It was, they insisted, fine and enjoyed a healthy serving of mackerel and squid once returned to the tank.

They did admit, however, that dolphins occasionally jump out of the water on to dry land, so they have now placed crash mats around the perimeter of the three tanks in their amusement park to avoid serious injury.

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A hidden practice: Due to worldwide concern, the fishermen now try to hide the slaughter. The kills take place out of sight underneath blue tarpaulins

The trade in wild dolphins to U.S. aquariums has ceased due to public outrage, and the high-profile campaigns of activists like O’Barry.

There are no captive dolphins in Britain either as a result of a public backlash against the shows. Only a few are on show in Europe, and these animals were born in captivity — although O’Barry fears even this poses a threat to the mammals’ welfare because there is now a problem with inbreeding. O’Barry exhorts the public never to attend dolphin aquariums.

‘The solution lies with the consumer,’ he says. ‘Don’t buy a ticket for a captive dolphin show. ‘This is a multi-million-dollar industry I helped create. I remember loading them onto the planes after the Flipper show became so popular. At one point there were more dolphins in the UK than in Florida.

‘But the consumer now has to bring his power to bear on this trade, which also results in the slaughter of all those other dolphins. There is more money in live dolphins than dead ones, but the one fuels the other.’

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A fisheries worker guides the carcass of dolphins at ‘killer cove’ in Taiji, Japan. The fishermen claim that any kills that take place are humane and that it takes only seconds for the dolphins to die

In Taiji, Nicole McLachlan, of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is part of a team monitoring the capture and killing of dolphins that takes place from September to March each year in the small port where whales have been hunted since the 17th century. Last month alone, she claims up to 170 cetaceans were killed, including pilot whales, risso, striped and bottlenose dolphins. More than 100 were captured for aquariums.

Such is worldwide concern over the slaughter that the fishermen try to hide it. ‘Nowadays the kills take place out of sight underneath blue and brown tarpaulins that cover the bay,’ the Australian marine environmentalist says.

The carnage lasts about half an hour. It is harrowing. ‘They are terrified. You hear the dolphins screaming; it’s a high-pitched wailing sound. ‘There is splashing as they thrash around in the water. Young dolphin calves are often among those slaughtered within the cove; some are younger than a year old.’

Yet locals are adamant it should continue. Police monitor the activists while many of the town’s 3,500 residents — most of whom are linked to the fishing industry — arrive to support the fishermen in this Japanese tradition.

The ‘drive hunt’ (‘oikomiryou’ in Japanese) involves five or six large fishing vessels sailing out to sea to find a pod of dolphins. The fishermen bang metal poles against the side of the boat to disorientate and scare them.

More boats arrive, making the same noise, to corral the confused and by now terrified pod into the cove, which is then sealed off. The next day the inspectors arrive to examine their quarry and separate the dolphins for the aquariums from those to be killed.

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, between 1968 and 1972, only 77 live-caught bottlenose dolphins were sent to aquariums from such hunts. But now Taiji’s 120 fishermen are licensed by the national government to catch 2,100 dolphins and pilot whales in the six-month hunting season.

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A fisherman tows away dolphins that have been tied by rope to the front of his boat. In 2011, about 15 per cent of dolphins were taken into captivity (68 were kept alive and 968 killed)

The fishermen claim any kills that take place, particularly those where the rod shatters the spine, are humane and that it takes only seconds for the dolphins to die. It is a claim vehemently refuted by marine environmentalists.

A spokesman for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said: ‘In 2011, about 15 per cent of the dolphins were taken for captivity (68 were kept alive and 968 killed). ‘The year before that (2010-2011), nearly 20 per cent were taken into captivity (213 were sold for aquariums and 1,100 were killed)  This year, however, may be even higher due to the 100 bottlenose dolphins already taken into captivity.’

In the summer months, long after the blood has been washed away from Taiji cove, tourists arrive to swim in the bay — with dolphins. The town has a whale museum and fish tanks in which dolphins are kept — in 2011, two dolphins were filmed in a tank so small it was nicknamed ‘the fish-bowl’.

Captured dolphins also swim in the bay, which is sealed off to ensure they cannot bolt to freedom.

And as tourists marvel at the antics of these sensitive creatures and play with them, almost every one remains blissfully unaware of Taiji’s bloody secret — and of how young healthy dolphins are snatched away from their parents to amuse humans in this callous multi-million-pound trade.

News Link:– http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2257426/The-dolphin-snatchers-Mail-investigation-exposes-vile-trade-animals-sold-100-000-aquariums-suffer-unimaginable-cruelty.html#ixzz2H3wYDyHM

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Minister of Wildlife HRH Prince Bandar and Riyadh city municipality: Shut down Fantasyland zoo, relocate and treat the rescued animals.

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“Hadiqa Abu Jarrah” in Riyadh – Fantasyland zoo

“How can anyone call a row of cages a zoo? Housing an animal in a barren space, devoid of environmental enrichment, may have a serious negative effect on health, welfare & behaviour. Such situations are likely to encourage abnormal, repetitive behaviour (known as ‘stereotypic’ behaviour), self-mutilation, apathy, heightened aggression and in some cases extreme neurosis.

 “It is clear to see that no thought has been put into the animals living quarters or the well being of the animals. Failure to provide  captive wild animals with the opportunity to express normal behaviour usually has a detrimental effect, such as ill health & stereotypical behaviour (pacing, rocking etc.) These poor animals don’t have any of the.”

“The Five Freedoms form the minimum requirements for numerous articles of animal welfare legislation and guidance around the world, including the UK Zoo Licensing Act of 1981, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the UK tourist industry’s Animal Interactions Guidelines (Federation of Tour Operators, 2006).”

  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  • Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behavior – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

“Clearly the Fantasy land zoo has none of the above, hence the animals are suffering badly. Please support these animals by signing the petition below. Also check  ‘ Blue Abaya’ Blog, as there are links to further support this action. I will forward this post to my contact at Born Free Zoo check, to see if they can help these animals in any way!”

PETITIONShut down Fantasyland zoo, relocate and treat the rescued animals.

The sickly lion didn’t have energy to move at all during visit.

Please sign this petition if you are inside or outside Saudi Arabia and circulate because we need international awareness about these blatant animal rights and law violations in Saudi Arabia.

Circuses are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and so is the importation of endangered and exotic animals according to CITES laws.

It is also illegal to abuse, sell and make money off of animals according to Islamic laws. However, the zoo at Fantasyland in thumamah, Riyadh Saudi Arabia has lions, tigers, bears, coyotes, hyenas, monkeys in small 3 meter metal cages with no food or water present. 

The animals are suffering from malnutrition, and have had teeth removed as evident in the photos and video.

These animals are clearly depressed and miserable and may be drugged and further abused physically.

This place is a zoo of horrors and must be shut down immediately and the animals humanely relocated and given veterinary care.

Please sign petition:https://www.change.org/petitions/minister-of-wildlife-hrh-prince-bandar-and-riyadh-city-municipality-shut-down-fantasyland-zoo-relocate-and-treat-the-rescued-animals?utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Extracts from Laylah  who has been to this place –  ‘ Blue Abaya’ Blog “The Zoo Of Horror’s:-blog:-http://blueabaya.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/zoo-of-horros.html

“Ever since I heard about a zoo called “Hadiqa Abu Jarrah” in Riyadh where animals are horribly mistreated it has deeply disturbed me. When we finally got the chance to go check the place out it became apparent the zoo was much worse than I had imagined.”

“The actual “zoo” which is in reality only a few small metal cages placed next to each other, is located inside the Fantasy Land amusement park on Thumamah Road. The animals have absolutely nothing in the cages, they can see and hear the others at all times. There were many ill looking, poorly animalsthere as well. The cages are outside in a hall withno air-conditioning or heating. Most shockingly they had large animals such as a grizzly bear and adult lions in tiny cages. The animals are never let out of the cages and there is only one zoo keeper taking care of them all”.

“These animals are in urgent need of help! Seeing the the zoo in all its horror and the animals there looking like they lived in hell on earth made me extremely, extremely MAD. There are not many things in this world that upset me as much as mistreatment of animals, children and women. So I decided to write this post to spread awareness of the appalling conditions of the animals held at Hadiqa Abu Jarrah.”

“The man pictured owns these animals and apparently few years back he decided to set up this zoo and the animals were brought there and placed into the small torture cells for people to come look at for a fee of 20 SAR. Previously the animals had been on the mans farm. There was no information about where or how he had gotten most of these animals but there is clear indication most must have been brought into the country illegally.”

” The man has had this grizzly bear for 10 years. We were told it was smuggled in as a baby from the U.S. Wouldn’t that be an offense punishable by a jail sentence in the States, to smuggle out an endangered species? Saudi-Arabia does not have animal protection laws and the law banning trafficking of endangered animals is clearly not enforced whatsoever, which can be seen by going into any petshop in the Kingdom.”

“His son pictured inside the hyenas cage, WHILE the hyena is having its dinner. Hyenas are such peaceful, mindful eaters right? Anyone who ever watched National Geographic channel hyena programs showing how these ferocious predators normally eat their food and react to potential threats to their meal would know just how foolish and potentially dangerous this actually is.”

“Back to the grizzly. This must be the world’s saddest, most depressed bear. He looks into the eyes of the visitor with such plea it is simply heart wrenching to watch.
The bear never got out of his prison, if you don’t count the photo sessions with “Abu Jarrah”. The zoo keeper was too afraid to even think of opening its cage in fear of his life. Grizzlies like all bears need to roam around extensively, have activities, social contacts and they also hibernate. I doubt this bear ever had the chance to have any of those things.”

“A few fans were placed here and there around the hall. During Saudi winters the night time temperatures drop near 0 Celcius(32F) and in the summer temperatures soar to the high 40s daily reaching even 53C(127C). This places the animals in great risk of hypothermia or heat stroke and dehydration.”

A baby monkey which was placed next to the bear looked pretty much frightened out of his mind and despite being locked up inside the cage had a rope tied to one of its legs.

 “I’m sure many reading this are upset and know that animals just like humans can sense pain and even emotions such as boredom, excitement, joy, frustration and fear. The only thing animals can’t do is speak out and tell us. We need to give them our voices.”

Published on 2 Jun 2012 by 

“zoo” inside Fantasyland amusent park where animals are jailed and tortured in tiny cages with no shelter or food or water available and never let out of the cages. The owner is Saudi man called “Abu Jarrah”. More info and pics here:http://blueabaya.blogspot.com/2012/06/zoo-of-horros.html

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