Four dolphins, Veera, Delfi, Leevi and Eevertti, are to be moved to a dolphinarium in Greece as their current captive home, Särkänniemi Theme Park is to close.
Särkänniemi announced its decision to shut its doors last October, citing a change in public attitudes towards captive dolphin shows as the reason for reduced public attendance and profits.
The facility has since received offers to purchase the dolphins, all of which were rejected; the facility stated that it did not want to sell the dolphins and wanted to find a solution that would provide the highest level of welfare for these dolphins.
Permits under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) needed to transfer the dolphins from Särkänniemi dolphinarium have been approved, and the dolphins now look set to be transferred to Attica Zoological Park in Greece – a zoo that reported five dolphin deaths between 2010 and 2015.
In June 2016, the Ministry of Environment in Greece approved the expansion of Attica Zoological Park (including the dolphinarium), despite the fact that the Greek minister had pledged to pass a law banning whale and dolphin captivity in the country. The Greek Law 4039/2012, passed in 2012, already forbids the use of animals in performance; however, this law has gone unenforced by the Ministry.
Discussions have been on-going since the closure of the dolphinarium was first announced to try to reach an agreement to place the dolphins in a seaside sanctuary as soon as such a sanctuary is established.
WDC is working with a number of stakeholders to establish sanctuaries for captive whales and dolphins. It is a long and complicated process to establish such sanctuaries. Unfortunately, without them, there is no perfect solution for individuals when facilities close and we would hope that as soon as a sanctuary is established, the four bottlenose dolphins held in Finland would be among the first candidates for one.