The albino dolphin - named Angel by activist Ric O'Barry - gained international coverage when she was first captured by the Taiji Whale Museum, and caused outrage from animal lovers concerned about her well-being. Representatives from Australia for Dolphins (AFD) tried to monitor Angel's condition in the museum, but museum officials denied them entry.
With the support of Ric O'Barry, Save Japan Dolphins, and the Earth Island Institute, AFD filed a lawsuit against the Taiji Whale Museum for discriminating against westerners, and not giving them the same access to the museum as Japanese nationals. Now the judge has made a ruling in the activists' favor, and AFD has announced that this decision will aid the ongoing battle to have Angel relocated to a sea pen.
Sarah Lucas, CEO of Australia for Dolphins, first visited Angel shortly after the dolphin's capture. Angel was initially kept in a small outdoor swimming pool, where she could do nothing but swim in small circles. "The most heart-wrenching thing was seeing her all alone," Lucas tells The Dodo. "I think it must have been so traumatic for her to be taken from her mother, and suddenly thrown into alien conditions. I felt very sad for her."
Angel was eventually placed in an indoor tank with four or five other dolphins, but, as Lucas explains, this hasn't improved her welfare. "There's very little space," Lucas says. "In the wild Angel might have swum 100 kilometers [62 miles] in a day, but she now has to swim in awkward circles trying not to hit the edge of her tank. The tank is barren, and completely devoid of stimuli."
Not surprisingly, Angel and her tankmates have become extremely frustrated. Lucas says that Angel has "rake" scars on her skin, probably from dominant male dolphins attacking her.