Addressing the Confusion about Angel

Congratulations to Australia for Dolphins (AFD) for winning a lawsuit against the Taiji Whale Museum. It’s a well-deserved victory. Good on ya’ mates! Great work.

There has been much confusion about this victory. Many people are under the impression that this lawsuit was about freeing Angel from the hideous tank at the Taiji Whale Museum and that her rescue has now been successfully secured. Sadly, this is not the case.

The lawsuit was about discrimination against Westerners, not about freeing Angel or any other dolphin at the facility. Takashi Takano, Representative Partner of the Tokyo-based Takano Law Office, at the time the suit was filed, stated: “The Taiji Whale Museum’s conduct is an egregious violation of the Japanese constitution and deeply-held Japanese values. My clients were refused entry to a public place simply because of their appearance. We are confident we can demonstrate this in court.”

I support the efforts of Australia for Dolphins. I helped them with this lawsuit in the first place, standing by them at the Taiji Whale Museum when the lawsuit was served. I also stood with them at the press conference in Tokyo, when the lawsuit was announced. However, I felt it was necessary to clarify the nature of the lawsuit, as Dolphin Project is now being contacted by misinformed, overjoyed supporters who want to donate money to finance Angel’s rescue and transfer to a natural seapen. They think Angel is going to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild or transferred to a sanctuary because of this victorious lawsuit. None of these things are true.

 Ric O’Barry with Sarah Lucas at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, May 2014 photo: Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan

Ric O’Barry with Sarah Lucas at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, May 2014
photo: Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan

Dolphin Project’s position has always remained the same: Nobody should be asking for donations for a dolphin that is not in their legal possession. Having possession is the first, crucial step in any dolphin rescue and release process. Without possession, it would be unethical to raise money for Angel, or any other dolphin for that matter. Angel is owned by someone else. She is considered the “property” of the Taiji Whale Museum, by the Japanese government.

Therefore, while we encourage you to act as Angel’s advocate, one way being to write a letter to Prime Minister Abe, please do not send donations to Dolphin Project for the specific purpose of  rehabilitating and releasing Angel.

Hopefully, someday, we will be able to save Angel from her miserable living conditions. This has always been our ultimate goal. But, for Angel‘s sake, lets not celebrate a rescue that has not yet taken place.

~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project

Featured image: Angel with Dolphin Project Cove Monitor, Karla Sanjur at the Taiji Whale Museum. Karla gave Angel her name. Photo credit: Ric O’Barry

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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry


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