JAKARTA, UBUD––Doublecrossed in January 2013 by Solomon Islands dolphin hunters, Dolphin Project founder Ric O’Barry was doublecrossed again a few weeks later in Indonesia.
Speaking on the @america live television program, hosted by the U.S. Embassy, Indonesian forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan on February 5, 2013 told O’Barry and Jakarta Animal Aid Network founder Femke den Haas that “No traveling circus in Indonesia is permitted to transport live dolphins,” the Jakarta Globe reported.
Hasan “called on activist groups like JAAN to help officials deal with the problem,” the Jakarta Globe continued. O’Barry reminded Hasan that JAAN and Earth Island Institute had in October 2010 signed a memorandum of understanding with the forestry ministry to rehabilitate and release dolphins confiscated from illegal exhibitors and traffickers, and had constructed a sea pen for the purpose at Karimun Jawa. The ministry has balked, however, at actually impounding any of the estimated six dozen dolphins in illegal shows.
An @america audience member told Hasan that “he had seen a dolphin show at a circus in Bantul, Yogyakarta, and had been told by the circus officials that they obtained their permit from the Forestry Ministry,” the Jakarta Globe recounted.
“You just tell me where this circus is, and if need be, I’ll go there myself and break it up,” Hasan said.
Appearing to keep his promise, Hasan flew to Bali on February 13, 2012 to see Wayan and Made, two dolphins who were kept without permits at the Akame Restaurant in Benoa Harbor. Reportedly calling the facilities “cruel and unacceptable,” Hasan pledged to have the dolphins removed to the Karimun Jawa sea pen.
“For ten days following this public announcement,” O’Barry’s son Lincoln O’Barry recounted, “the Akame Restaurant continued to hold dolphin shows. No subsequent action was taken, leading to a local protest at the site on February 22, 2013.” Then the dolphins disappeared, “understood to be headed back to the traveling circus in Weleri, Central Java,” from which the dolphins were believed to have been rented or purchased, Lincoln O’Barry said.
Before Hasan addressed the @america broadcast at which he promised to free any illegally held dolphins, O’Barry showed the audience the bulletproof vest he had been asked to wear on his way into the studio. “Outside the venue,” the Jakarta Globe reported, “visitors were heckled by a mob of men dressed in black uniforms, who claimed that the organizers did not have a permit to hold the discussion. Calling itself the Indonesian Alliance, the mob also disrupted the discussion and claimed to represent one of the circuses.”