SINGAPORE: Animal welfare group ACRES wants a debate on the dolphins which are at the heart of the controversy surrounding Resorts World Sentosa’s Marine Life Park.
ACRES said it has invited Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to a public debate on January 19 next year.
The group said the debate will provide the public with facts so that they will be able to hear both sides of the story and make an informed decision about the dolphins.
The Marine Life Park, which opened earlier this month, is the world’s largest oceanarium.
It is home to more than 100,000 marine animals, including 24 bottlenose dolphins which were caught from the wild.
ACRES said it has also sent an email to Resorts World Sentosa to clarify statements that RWS has made on the dolphins, urging RWS to respond to the concerns that ACRES and members of the public have raised.
Among the concerns raised are public safety issues during the proposed dolphin contact sessions, as well as animal welfare and conservation issues.
ACRES’ chief executive, Louis Ng, said RWS has turned down his requests for meetings for more than a year, and he hopes that RWS will accept his latest invitation for a "positive discussion".
Twenty—seven dolphins were captured from the Solomon Islands between 2008 and 2009, and sent to Malaysia and the Philippines for training while the Marine Life Park was under construction.
One of the dolphins died en route to Singapore in November, while two others died in 2010 in Malaysia from bacterial infections.
Singapore’s Marine Life Park has said that its acquisition of the Indo—Pacific bottlenose dolphins followed international requirements.
When asked if it would agree to the public debate, RWS reiterated what it said in a letter published in the TODAY newspaper on Wednesday.
RWS said the "acquisition and care of our dolphins have and will continue to meet and, wherever possible, surpass international guidelines and regulations".
It added that this commitment is not generated from a legal obligation, it is because "we want to do the right thing for our animals".
It said RWS "will not compromise the well being of our marine animals", and that the dolphins, now in their required quarantine period, are acclimating well to their new home at Marine Life Park.
It urged ACRES to "contribute constructively to marine conservation while appreciating that it requires many strategies, experts and resources to turn the tide for the future of marine life".
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