5 dolphins destined for RWS moved to Philippines

RWS Marine Life Park

LANGKAWI — First there were seven, then five and now there are none.

The five remaining bottlenose dolphins at a holding area in Langkawi destined for Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) Marine Life Park were no longer at the pen of the Awana Porto Malai resort when MediaCorp visited on Friday.

An employee who wanted to be known as Ahmed, told MediaCorp that the dolphins were put into a container last month and sent to Langkawi’s international airport, from where they shipped to the Philippines. MediaCorp had reported on Dec 18 that two of the dolphins had died from an acute bacterial infection in October.

The dolphins were caught in the Solomon Islands last January. Mr Ahmed believes that the rest were moved from the Malaysian resort, which is owned by the Genting group, because the water "was not good" for their health.

"We had a lot of rain and muddy run—off from the nearby mountains could have affected the dolphins," he said. Until they were removed, said Mr Ahmed, the dolphins were friendly and trained three times a day by six trainers — two each from Mexico, Hong Kong and Singapore.

"Contacted by MediaCorp, RWS was unable to respond by press time if the mammals were joining its 18 other dolphins being trained at the Ocean Adventure Park in the Philippines.

The RWS had previously said the dolphins there were in "good health" and that it was continuing with the "development and establishment of the medical, behavioural, husbandry and training programmes ... to ensure the well—being and health of the dolphins".

While animal activists have been up in arms about the captivity of dolphins in Singapore, RWS had stressed that the Marine Life Park was "part of the bid" when it won the integrated resort licence.

After winning the bid, RWS signed an agreement with the Sentosa Development Corporation, a Government statutory board. This means the ball is not just in the RWS court when it comes to any decision about the dolphins.

On Friday, the RWS wrote to MediaCorp to explain how its Marine Life Park would support conservation.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Tourism Board stressed on Friday that RWS must comply with international regulations, which include the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), as well as the requirements of the Agri—food and Veterinary Authority to safeguard animal health.

Bottlenose dolphins are listed in Appendix II of Cites, which entails strict regulations in their trade. The RWS had said previously it would comply with these regulations.

— TODAY /ls