SeaWorld has obtained permission to import a Pacific white-sided dolphin from a marine park in Japan, despite calls for the company to cut ties with Japanese parks, citing a connection to the brutal dolphin drive hunts in Taiji.
The dolphin to be imported, a female named Kirara born in captivity in 2006, lives at Kamogawa Sea World, a park that has a business relationship with the U.S. SeaWorld, but is a separate company. SeaWorld had originally applied to import the dolphin in August of 2012.
A document obtained through the Federal Register reads:
The dolphin would be imported from Kamogawa SeaWorld 1404-18 Higashi-cho, Kamogawa, Chiba, Japan to Sea World San Antonio, 10500 SeaWorld Drive, San Antonio, TX 78251 for the purposes of public display.
There are several reasons why protesters have already voiced fierce opposition to the import. First, the trip is over 6,500 miles -- a 20-plus hour ride that can cause extreme stress for the dolphin.
There's also the issue of the marine park's connection to the drive hunts in Taiji, Japan, which slaughter hundreds of dolphins each year. Kamogawa Sea World is accredited by the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) -- the same organization that includes marine parks that buy dolphins caught in the drive fishery, including the Taiji Whale Museum (the same park that houses the baby albino dolphin captured last year, dubbed "Angel"). While SeaWorld has announced that it does not support the drive fisheries or buy animals from them, many say that the company is fraternizing with the enemy by dealing with JAZA parks.