“We will not allow dolphinariums”
DELHI––“We will not allow dolphinariums,” Indian environment and forest minister Jayanthi Natarajan on May 8, 2013 told Chetan Chahan of the Hindustan Times.
“The environment ministry rejected plans to develop dolphinariums in the Noida neighborhood of Delhi, Kochi in Kerala, and in Mumbai, some of which have been proposed in collaboration with foreign players,” Chahan continued. “The reason is that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act prohibit display of animals and birds for amusement.”
Apparently waiting for another nine days after speaking to Chaha to see how word of the decision was received, Natarajan officially confirmed the decision to ban dolphinariums on May 17, 2013.
Said the official policy declaration, “Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that their unusually high intelligence as compared to other animals means that dolphin should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights, it is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment.”
Noting that “Cetaceans in general do not survive well in captivity,” the declaration continued, “the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has decided not to allow establishment of dolphinariums in the country. State governments are advised to reject any such proposals,” including for the “import or capture of cetacean species” in anticipation of establishing entertainment ventures.
“The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations, the Born Free Foundation, Global Green Grants Fund, Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, and Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation have been working on bringing about this prohibition for the past year,” said FIAPO campaign manager Puja Mitra.
“The first dolphinarium in India, Dolphin City at Chennai, was closed due to the efforts of the Blue Cross of India 15 years ago,” recalled Nanditha Krishna of the C.P. Ramaswamy Institute. “The next proposal, from Mumbai, was stopped by Blue Cross and the C.P. Ramaswamy Environmental Education Centre. The recent proposal to set up a dolphnarium in Kochi was stopped by the C.P. Ramaswamy Environmental Education Centre, with inputs from Humane Society International, the Blue Cross of India, Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, and the Animal Welfare Board of India,” Mrs. Krishna said.