WAZA & JAZA to Meet Japanese Activists

By Ric O’Barry
Dolphin Project


We’ve continued to broaden our campaign in Taiji to address the captivity angle.  In fact the focus of the effort in Taiji is more and more, in my mind, coming down to stopping the subsidy of the dolphin hunts by the captivity industry.  That has become the prime story and the prime support for the hunt – the people who buy captive wild dolphins from Taiji for immense amounts of money.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) represents zoos and aquariums around the world, including in Japan.  The Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) is an affiliate of WAZA.  And the Taiji Whale Museum and many of the aquariums that source dolphins from Taiji are also members of JAZA and WAZA.

WAZA has an “ethical statement”, several years old now, stating its members should not be involved in the Taiji dolphin hunts, but obviously this statement is completely ignored by JAZA and the Taiji Whale Museum, as well as other dolphinariums around the world.

A dead dolphin will bring about $500 to $600 in a market for its meat, but a trained captive dolphin from Taiji brings as much as $150,000 or more on the world market for blood dolphin$, the apt name my son Lincoln came up with for the captivity trade.

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project joined with activists in supporting a demonstration in March in front of the WAZA headquarters in Gland, Switzerland.  I joined Swiss and Japanese activists in meeting with the Executive Director of WAZA, Dr. Gerald Dick.  Dr. Dick agreed to arrange a meeting with Japanese activists in Japan with the head of JAZA.  The meeting is scheduled for this Sunday, August 10th in Japan.



It remains to be seen if anything positive will come from this meeting, but clearly WAZA, at least, is feeling the heat.

The Japanese delegation of environmental and animal welfare organizations will be led by Sakae Hemmi of the Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, our dear friend who has led the fight against dolphin hunts in Japan for many years.  Several representatives of other organizations will join her.  Dr. Dick of WAZA will be present.  The new president of JAZA is Mr. Kazutoshi Arai, who is the president of Kamogawa Sea World, a large aquarium in Japan.   While Kamogawa Sea World likely obtained Taiji dolphins in the past, they have not done so recently.

WAZA should stop making claims based on the false assertion that the dolphin hunts are somehow part of “Japanese culture.”  This is just a lame excuse for the lucrative captures and killing to continue.

Instead WAZA and ALL its members should be condemning the dolphin hunts in no uncertain terms.  If JAZA members continue to acquire dolphins from the drive hunts in Taiji, JAZA should be expelled from WAZA. 


We wish Sakae and her colleagues success with the meeting.


For more information and what you can do, go to our webpage: 



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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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