Taiji Whale Museum Withdraws From JAZA

It is not at all surprising to learn that the Taiji Whale Museum has chosen to withdraw as a member of JAZA. According to this report by NHK World, the museum, located just a short distance from Taiji’s infamous killing cove, withdrew from the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums after JAZA agreed to ban its members from sourcing dolphins captured in the Taiji dolphin hunt.

Angel, moments before she was ripped from her pod.

Angel, moments before she was ripped from her pod.

Last April, the World Associations of Zoos and Aquariums suspended JAZA as a member of its organization after failing to reach a compromise in negotiations. JAZA offered some mitigation over the drive hunts but, “it did not restrict taking animals from the drive,” WAZA said.

Last year, Ric O’Barry and Sakae Hemmi of the Japanese conservation group, ELSA Nature Conservancy (ENC), met with Dr. Gerald Dick, the Executive Director of WAZA, to discuss JAZA’s removal of membership status. A series of meetings between ENC, its colleagues, and WAZA and JAZA followed, but resulted in a stalemate.  Eventually, JAZA decided to inform its members that in order to retain membership in their organization, Japanese aquaria must stop sourcing dolphins from the inhumane hunts in Taiji.

Angel & RicThe Taiji Whale Museum in the Wakayama Prefecture, is the first Japanese aquarium to withdraw its membership from JAZA since JAZA complied with WAZA’s wishes. According to the NHK report, “Museum official Tetsuo Kirihata said that the decision was reached after numerous discussions.” Kirihata added that the drive hunt was legal and reiterated the museum’s desire to continue purchasing dolphins captured in the cove.

The Whale Museum currently has around 50 cetaceans on public display, the majority of which, were sourced from the dolphin drives. It is the facility made famous in the documentary The Cove, where you can watch a dolphin and eat a dolphin at the same time. Last year, the museum purchased a rare, female, juvenile bottlenose dolphin nicknamed, ‘Angel’. Angel was driven into the cove along with her mother and more than 250 other bottlenose dolphins.

With accessibility to a replaceable resource and its ability to choose the cream of the crop, withdrawing from JAZA is a no-brainer for the museum. Able to source and broker trained dolphins to other countries at will — and at little cost, the Whale Museum can maximize their profits. And money — unfortunately, is the loudest voice of all.

Last April, Ric O’Barry presented a more than one million signature petition to the Obama Administration at The White House. This opportunity allowed them to discuss the current situation in Taiji and the revolving dolphin trade and slaughter. Dolphin Project has protested outside WAZA’s Swiss headquarters twice in as many years. If you would like to help Japan dolphins, click on the ‘Take Action’ banner below. Thank you.

Ric O'Barry at The White House Washington D.C. Photo: DolphinProject.com

Ric O’Barry at The White House Washington D.C.
Photo: DolphinProject.com

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About Elizabeth Batt

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Elizabeth is a freelance writer, a former large animal nurse and a former certified NREMT. She is passionate about the ocean and its inhabitants and her work focuses on cetacean-related issues, including captive whales and dolphins. She graduated in psychology and sociology and lives with her family in beautiful northwestern Montana.

Author: Elizabeth Batt


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