SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Marine Life Park said its acquisition of 25 Indo—pacific bottlenose dolphins caught in the wild, followed international requirements.
A spokesman of Marine Life Park said Saturday that they are in line with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates the trade of animals to protect wildlife species from extinction.
The spokesman had said so in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia on a report that a court in the Philippines has moved to stop the 25 dolphins from being re—exported to Singapore.
This followed calls from environmentalists and activists to prevent the transfer of the mammals, which are housed temporarily in Manila before being sent to Marine Life Park.
A report on the website of The Philippine Star said a Quezon City court decided on Friday to stop the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources from issuing a permit to re—export the 25 dolphins in Ocean Adventure Park in Subic.
The report added that the court granted a petition by animal welfare groups and issued a 72—hour "temporary environment protection order" preventing the re—export of the dolphins.
The dolphins were imported from the Solomon Islands in 2008, 2009, and 2011 and brought to Subic for training while Marine Life Park was under construction.
The Philippine report said the court decided to stop the ’re—exportation’ on the grounds that doing so would cause irreparable damage to the dolphins.
Responding to the report, the spokesman of Marine Life Park said on Saturday that the movement of marine animals, including dolphins, is governed by the United Nations Environment Programme which upholds the policies of CITES.
Marine Life Park’s spokesman said the dolphins are currently doing well in the Philippines.
He added that the Marine Life Park has an experienced team of animal experts who collectively represent over 300 years of experience working in more than 60 reputable zoological facilities around the world.
"With a mission to promote marine education, conservation and research, Marine Life Park strives to offer an educational and memorable experience that inspires a generation of stewards for the environment," said the statement from Marine Life Park.
But Singapore animal welfare group ACRES said on Saturday that it welcomes the latest news.
ACRES’ chief executive Louis Ng said, "It has sent a very strong message out. A judge has reviewed the case, they’ve reviewed the literature and have agreed that this re—export shouldn’t take place.
"We hope that they will make this ban permanent, and we are hopeful that the Philippines government will uphold the law and return these dolphins back to the Solomon Islands."
ACRES added that it would be a violation of Philippine law to allow the dolphins to be re—exported to Singapore and highlighted that the capture of the dolphins was unsustainable as the Indo—Pacific bottlenose dolphins were a "very localised and small population."
Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa, billed as the world’s largest oceanarium, is scheduled to open by December, and will involve more than 100,000 marine animals.
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