The world's top zoo organization has been accused of hiding ties to the brutal dolphin slaughter that happens every year in Taiji, Japan.
The animal welfare organization Australia for Dolphins filed a lawsuit in a Swiss court on Monday alleging that the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), a community of 1,300 zoos and aquariums, helped one of its members to secure dolphins caught in the Japanese drive hunt.
"I've seen the captures first hand," Sarah Lucas, CEO of Australia for Dolphins, said in a release. "They are so violent that many dolphins die from drowning, cardiac arrest or other injuries sustained in the brutal round-up process. When I went to WAZA's headquarters in Geneva to discuss my concerns a representative dismissed them, and excused the hunts as 'cultural.'"
WARNING: Contains graphic images
The dolphin hunt, which was revealed to the world by the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove," is held every year from September to mid-March. While proponents claim that the practice is steeped in tradition, animal advocates say that the drive as we know it only began in 1969, when speedboats could be used to herd the animals into the cove in massive groups. The animals are pushed into the cove and taken under tarps, either to be put into pens for training or slaughtered with a spike in their heads.