Today’s Friday Happy Hour good news was sent to me by The Marine Connection.
When two dolphins died following a loud Rave party at a Swiss amusement park last year, it raised a huge outcry in the public (the dolphin deaths were later determined to be due to the antibiotics they had been given). Now, in a move that reflects a modern attitude towards keeping dolphins in captivity for amusement, the Swiss senate has passed provisions which will make it impossible to import cetaceans into their country.
Dolphins no longer to be kept in captivity Following votes in both houses of parliament, the keeping of dolphins or whales in Swiss zoos or waterparks will be forced to come to an end. While the House of Representatives approved a ban on keeping dolphins on Tuesday, the Senate opted for an import ban on Wednesday, which would mean the dolphins currently in Switzerland could not be replaced when they died. The debate over an import ban was sparked by the death of two dolphins kept at the Connyland theme park in canton Thurgau last autumn. The three dolphins remaining at Connyland are the only dolphins kept in Switzerland. The park is planning to open as usual for the summer season on March 31. The government rejected initial calls for a ban on keeping the marine mammals in land-locked Switzerland but said the regulations on keeping the animals would be reviewed. The Swiss animal protection organisation Ocean Care welcomed parliament’s decision, calling it a milestone in its efforts to make Switzerland a dolphin-free country. Bans on keeping dolphins in captivity are already in place in Norway, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Cyprus. Ocean Care estimates there are more than 200 dolphin aquariums worldwide.
Update 5/6/2012 – “Two dolphins who died a slow, agonising death at a zoo after it hosted a rave were probably killed by a party-goer’s heroin substitute, according to a leaked toxicology report. (Daily Mail)
Prosecutors said at the time that they were considering negligence charges because they believed antibiotics given by zoo vets were to blame for the deaths at Connyland in Lipperswil. But another toxicology report carried out at the time, leaked to Swiss media, has raised new questions about what happened.
Tests conducted by the forensics institute in St Gallen found the heroin substitute Buprenorphin in the animals’ urine.
In November 2011, two dolphins were reported to have died following a Rave event held at Switzerland’s Connyland amusement park.
Now the toxicology reports are showing that the dolphins probably died due to the drugs that are routinely administered to these animals in captivity – drugs designed to ward off illness, but which damage the dolphins and shorten their lives.
The dolphins’ deaths were not kind or peaceful: Connyland keeper Nadja Gasser told local media: ‘The death was very drawn out and painful. The death went on for over an hour. It was horrendous. I have not been able to sleep since.’
The following information has been made available by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) on their captivity page:
There’s evidence now that the use of antibiotics in two dolphins (“Chelmers” and “Shadow”) in Swiss “Connyland” dolphinarium last November had caused brain damage which then led to their death afterwards. This was revealed by an evaluation by an Institute for veterinarian pathology commissioned by the prosecution of Thurgau. An investigation procedure against the two veterinarians that were vetting the dolphins is underway. The dolphinarium had accused “fanatic” animal activists to have poisoned the dolphins in the press before. WDCS has always been critical of the often intensive medicinal treatment of dolphins in zoos and entertainment parks. “The prophylactic and highly dosed medicinal treatment is nothing unusual. Furthermore, also psychotropic drugs are willingly used to control aggressions or improve the cooperation during the shows. One question remains: Who is responsible for the side effects? The vet who’s doing what he’s learned to or the keeper who is in charge for the insufficient keeping conditions?” asks Dr. Karsten Brensing, conservation manager of WDCS in Germany. It remains to be seen if the evidence will result in consequences for the keeping of dolphins in Connyland as well as other dolphinaria in Europe.