Animal rights activists gathered outside the Mediterraneo Marine Park on Saturday morning as they joined demonstrators across the globe in marking the annual ‘Empty the Tanks’ protest day.
More than 40 such demonstrations are being held in countries around the globe on Saturday, seeking to raise awareness about the way in which sea animals are kept in captivity for profit.
Activists have been pushing to have the Mediterraneo dolphin park forced out of business ever since it emerged that a number of dolphins died at the park as a result of lead poisoning.
The Veterinary Department concluded that the deaths were “pure accident”.
But an investigation by the Animal Welfare Commissioner concluded that the department was slow to act and said there were elements of “negligence and mismanagement” in the way those deaths were handled.
Activists have since argued that the park should have its licence withdrawn as it is a circus, rather than a zoo. Under Maltese law, animal circuses are illegal. The park, however, insists it fulfils an educational purpose and says its dolphin training mimics nature and is “not a show”.
On Saturday, demonstrators insisted the performances should stop.
“Eleven dolphins have died under the park’s responsibility, three in 2021 alone. Despite this, the park continues to use them for shows and interaction programs on a daily basis,” Animal Liberation Malta and Moviment Graffitti said in a statement.
“Dolphinariums are so outdated that many parks internationally have closed, and Malta should follow suit. There is no need to imprison sentient beings for entertainment and money. We should be teaching people to respect wildlife in their natural habitat. Swimming with a captive dolphin that is performing forced behaviour due to food deprivation is not teaching respect – it is teaching dominance.”
The Empty the Tanks global movement states that it is not seeking the release of all marine animals in captivity.
“Some of these animals might be great candidates for release, but those that are not should be retired into sea pens, where they can enjoy the rest of their days in natural seawater, feeling the waves of the ocean around them,” the movement states.
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