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.
Kamogawa Sea World also has a history of capturing wild marine mammals -- it also owns two orcas named Bingo and Stella, captured in Iceland; as well as three belugas captured in Canada and Russia.
In its application, SeaWorld (U.S.) states that the parents of Kirara, were both "incidentally captured" in fishing nets on February 5 and 8 in 1994. Many activists have questioned this statement, saying that it's likely that the animals were intentionally captured.
SeaWorld has until June 30, 2017 to import Kirara from Japan.
Conservationists have been vocal about the transport since its inception. Said Candace Crespi of the Oceanic Preservation Society:
"Another sad example of SeaWorld separating mother and calf and transporting intelligent marine mammals thousands of miles to make a profit."
You can contact your local representative (find your representative here) and NOAA lead permit analyst Jennifer Skidmore (firstname.lastname@example.org) at (301) 427-8401 to tell them to bar SeaWorld from importing Kirara.
SeaWorld plans to import Kirara, a Pacific white-sided dolphin from Kamogawa SeaWorld in Japan, despite JAZA's ties to the drive hunt fisheries, and the stress that she would be put under during the journey. Join The Dodo and me in calling on SeaWorld to cancel its plans to import Kirara, and lead the fight against cruel dolphin drive hunts in Japan.
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