Protecting Dolphins in Germany & Switzerland

By Ric O’Barry
Director
Dolphin Project

 

I am in Germany and Switzerland this week, working with local grassroots organizations dedicated to protecting dolphins to bring the issue of dolphin captivity to the attention of the public here in Europe. 

When I first came to Germany years ago to work on captivity, there were nine dolphinariums; today there are only two left.  In Switzerland, only one dolphinarium still remains, and the Swiss Parliament recently passed legislation banning further imports of live dolphins for captive shows.  We have made tremendous progress over the years, and this week has been marked by major demonstrations and packed press conferences.

Ric O'Barry at the German Press conference against dolphins in captivity.
Ric O’Barry at the German Press conference against dolphins in captivity with Jürgen Ortmüller, CEO of the German Whale and Dolphin Protection Forum (WDSF), and Lars Gorschlueter of SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund.  Copyright by Timm Ortmüller Photography & WDSF (Whale & Dolphin Protection Forum).

My trip to Europe is sponsored by the German Whale and Dolphin Protection Forum (WDSF) and SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund.  My thanks to Jürgen Ortmüller, Founder and CEO of WDSF, and Lars Gorschlueter of SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund for their tremendous organizing and support.  We held a joint press conference at the Düsseldorf Hotel to announce our opposition to keeping dolphins in captivity.  Our message to the German people was simple:  “Don’t buy a ticket.”

For video of our German press conference, go here:

http://www.wdsf.eu/index.php/wdsf-aktuell/wdsf-video-archiv

As part of the week, I even did an interview for a German children’s show.

Needless to say, the kids who watch these shows are the future leaders of Germany and Switzerland.

Ric and his trusty iPad broadcasting live from the demonstration against the Duisburg Zoo and from inside the dolphinarium in Germany.
Ric and his trusty iPad broadcasting live from the demonstration against the Duisburg Zoo and from inside the dolphinarium in Germany.
Ric and his trusty iPad broadcasting live from the demonstration against the Duisburg Zoo and from inside the dolphinarium in Germany.  Copyright by Timm Ortmüller Photography & WDSF (Whale & Dolphin Protection Forum).

WDSF hosts a demonstration every week outside the Duisburg Zoo, which has a shockingly high mortality rate.  From 1991 to 2011 alone, fifteen dolphins are known to have died there, according to the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for the Environment.  So far this year, WDSF volunteers have handed out 50,000 leaflets to zoo goers, asking them to not buy a ticket to the captive dolphin shows.

WDSF volunteers have handed out 50,000 leaflets to zoo goers, asking them to not buy a ticket to the captive dolphin shows
Ric at demonstration against the Duisburg Zoo in Germany, surrounded by the media.  Copyright by Timm Ortmüller Photography & WDSF (Whale & Dolphin Protection Forum).

Here’s my broadcast from our demonstration, using my iPad, with a turnout of 300 people from around Europe.

We had quite a good time with the crowd and the public all around.  The police were very friendly; we had a permit for the demonstration.   I’m afraid the dolphin trainers at Duisburg Zoo were not so friendly, turning around with their backs to us in their improvised booth in front of the zoo extolling the keeping of dolphins in captivity.
We then attempted to enter the zoo (yes, we had tickets), which you can watch on my Ustream Channel here.

The following day, we went to Switzerland to demonstrate against the dolphinarium called Connyland, which lost two dolphins last fall when the park held a rave party (with loud techno music) around the dolphin tank.  Connyland is the last dolphinarium in Switzerland and should close down now that the Swiss government has banned any further imports of live dolphins.

Ric and demonstrators at Connyland in Switzerland
Ric and demonstrators at Connyland in Switzerland
Ric and demonstrators at Connyland in Switzerland
Ric and demonstrators at Connyland in Switzerland.  Copyright by Timm Ortmüller Photography & WDSF (Whale- & Dolphin Protection- Forum).

I want to thank two Swiss women activists, Angie Neuhaus and Gaby Bühler, for organizing our great demonstration at Connyland.  More than 200 people turned out for the event.

The stilt walker is Maria Heidemann, who has joined Ric in Taiji, Japan
The stilt walker is Maria Heidemann, who has joined Ric in Taiji, Japan. Copyright by Timm Ortmüller Photography & WDSF (Whale- & Dolphin Protection- Forum).

 

I raised an additional issue during our German press conference, and that was about EDEKA tuna, sold in Germany.

Jürgen with EDEKA tuna photo
Ric & Jürgen with EDEKA tuna photo.  Copyright by Timm Ortmüller Photography & WDSF (Whale- & Dolphin Protection- Forum).

 

Ric gives thumbs-down to EDEKA tuna, which is dolphin-deadly tuna from Colombia caught by chasing, killing and maiming dolphins
Ric gives thumbs-down to EDEKA tuna, which is dolphin-deadly tuna from Colombia caught by chasing, killing and maiming dolphins.  People in Germany should not buy it.  Copyright by Timm Ortmüller Photography & WDSF (Whale & Dolphin Protection Forum).

I hope you will pass the word to your friends in Germany:  Don’t buy EDEKA tuna.

And don’t buy a ticket to a dolphin show or swim-with-captive-dolphins program!

I’ll be doing further media interviews in Switzerland.

 

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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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