RWS Dolphin Island, SEA Aquarium accredited by zoo association

Channel NewsAsia 26 Sep 14;

SINGAPORE: Resort World Sentosa's (RWS) SEA Aquarium and Dolphin Island have been granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the integrated resort announced in a release on Friday (Sep 26).

“By meeting the highest standards, SEA Aquarium and Dolphin Island are ranked among the best zoos and aquariums in the world,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “When people visit these attractions at Resorts World Sentosa, they can be assured that they are supporting a facility that is a leader in the care and conservation of wildlife.”

"Marine education, conservation and research, as well as the well-being of our animals have always been our utmost priority," added Senior Vice President of Attractions at Resorts World Sentosa John Hallenbeck. "We are delighted to be one of the few facilities outside of the United States to receive the accreditation from AZA, and we look forward to inspire more visitors to do their part for our oceans.”

RWS said that both attractions underwent thorough reviews in animal care, veterinary programmes, conservation, education and safety to ensure that the facilities have and continue to meet standards. The AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete the accreditation process every five years in order to be a member of the association.

However, the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) has questioned the accreditation, asking if RWS was also open to being accredited by animal protection non-governmental organisations and "not only by their own industry professionals".

Mr Louis Ng, chief executive of ACRES, also said that "RWS’ acquisition of 27 wild-caught dolphins from the Solomon Islands contributed to the depletion of this species there and pushed this species one step closer towards extinction in the Solomon Islands".

On the conservation front, ACRES said it noted that "4 wild-caught dolphins have died under the care of RWS", adding that it has filmed at least one dolphin swimming in circles at RWS, which it said was a sign of stress.

The animal welfare organisation also pointed out the deaths of four wild-caught dolphins in captivity at the resort.

"Similarly, while RWS has launched a conservation project for manta rays, we note that two of their manta rays died earlier this year," Mr Ng added.

The AZA is a nonprofit organisation that is the accrediting body for zoos and aquariums in the United States and six other countries. SEA Aquarium and Dolphin Island appear to be the first facilities accredited in Singapore.

The SEA Aquarium was also recently ranked at seventh in Asia for Aquariums, according to travel website TripAdvisor.

- CNA/av