Hard for Resorts World Sentosa to advise on dolphin protection

Letter from Christina Lee Campaigns Officer, Animal Concerns Research & Education Society
Today Online 3 Dec 11;

I REFER to the report "Dolphins 'to play vital role in public education'" (Dec 1). The Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) is fully supportive of the education programmes that Resorts World Sentosa will be rolling out.

But these should not be at the expense of animal welfare and the survival of wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

We recognise the benefits of exposing students to marine research projects, but these can be achieved without having dolphins at the Marine Life Park. ACRES is in principle not against animal captivity, but we must keep animals who can cope with captivity.

RWS could follow the example of Monterey Bay Aquarium (in California), which draws 1.8 million visitors annually without housing dolphins. Instead, information about dolphins and whales is imparted through life-sized models and signs.

Ultimately, it is difficult for RWS to urge students to help in dolphin protection efforts, since it did not walk the talk.

The issue is not only about how the dolphins are housed and cared for but, most importantly, whether they were acquired ethically and responsibly.

RWS has the opportunity, though, to show the world that it truly embraces the marine conservation spirit by making a moral decision to rehabilitate and return the dolphins to the wild.

How educational is unnatural dolphin behaviour?
Letter from Audrey Tan Ruiping
Today Online 2 Dec 11;

I refer to the article "Dolphins 'to play vital role in public education'" (Dec 1).

Dolphins in the wild display different behaviours from dolphins in captivity. Apart from recognising how a dolphin looks and how they have to exhibit desired behaviours upon command, children will gain nothing from the experience.

It defeats the purpose of learning to expose children to unnatural behaviour and pass it off as education.

Kept in concrete walls, a dolphin's sonar sensory system is deprived. Unlike in their home in the wild, where dolphins play with their pods, they will now play with basketballs and hula-hoops.

It is ironic that Resorts World Sentosa claims it has to train dolphins to perform natural behaviour.

RWS is sending a wrong message about conservation. Bottlenose dolphins are not in danger of extinction, so why do they have to be "conserved"?

A true conservation message should inform people about what they can do in their capacity to conserve marine life and not by keeping dolphins in enclosures that are only a fraction of the space they are used to.

I hope that RWS reconsiders its decision to bring in the dolphins and uses its clout to truly preach the conservation message by releasing them.

Work has begun on marine curriculum for schools
Letter from Krist Boo Senior Vice-President, Communications, Resorts World Sentosa
Today Online 7 Dec 11;

THANK you for the letters "How educational is unnatural dolphin behaviour?" (Dec 2, online) and "Hard for RWS to advise on dolphin protection" (Dec 3), on the Marine Life Park's (MLP) school programme.

Following our presentation to educators in Singapore, we have begun to tailor curriculum for schools.

Getting close to marine life is an enriching experience. Personal and interactive encounters with marine animals have left deep and far-reaching influence on attitudes toward marine conservation among the millions of visitors to zoological facilities each year.

Our animals, including our dolphins, will be integral in this mission. Our dolphins have been with us for over three years. They are well taken care of by an experienced team of marine mammal specialists and veterinarians in a well-established facility.

All aspects of our park, including the collection of our animals, abide strictly with international regulations.

Over the past four years, the MLP has walked the talk on conservation: We conducted shark's fin education, coral conservation and funded anti-poaching patrol boats in the Galapagos Islands.

In 2008, we established the MLP Conservation Fund to support students, researchers and non-government organisations in marine conservation and research.

Zoological organisations have long played a role in wildlife conservation by providing hands-on expertise, funding and research capabilities.

We invite readers to visit http://mlp.rwsentosablog.com/2011/11/08/more-from-our-team-at-subic-bay/ to know the MLP and the marine species under our care.

Related links
Save the World's Saddest Dolphins