Animal activists fight Russian firm's plan for 'cruel' dolphin park in Da Nang

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A coastal section in Da Nang which has been approved for a controversial dolphin park of a Russian company. Photo: Nguyen Dong/VnExpress A coastal section in Da Nang which has been approved for a controversial dolphin park of a Russian company. Photo: Nguyen Dong/VnExpress

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Da Nang has suddenly found itself in hot water after announcing a controversial plan to build a park with captive dolphins and other sea creatures.
Animal activists said using animals, especially endangered dolphins, for commercial entertainment is old-fashioned and may sabotage the city’s reputation and its tourism industry.
Da Nang chairman Huynh Duc Tho has recently approved a proposal by Russia’s Utrish Dolphinarium Company to build a 2.5-hectare coastal complex with a dolphinarium.
But critics have asked the city to think again.
Hong Kong-based Animals Asia recently sent a petition to the Da Nang government, calling the project “suicidal” as it would lead to a drop in tourists and investment.
It said the project in Da Nang would keep wild-caught dolphins in captivity and force them to entertain the public and swim with visitors, which would hurt the animals and even be fatal to them.
David Neale, Animal Welfare Director for Animals Asia, said in a statement sent to Da Nang, as posted on the organization’s website, that: “There’s an ever-increasing body of research that shows capturing dolphins from the wild is cruel and causes a significant amount of suffering... It’s something that people don’t want to be a part of.”
He said going aboard with the project means “effectively ending any attempt to market the city as an eco-friendly location.”
'Reputation and future'
Da Nang has won reputation as a forward-thinking city for its various actions to protect the environment, like rejecting textile projects over pollution concerns and threatening to shut down Coca-Cola factory upon locals’ complaints of untreated sewage discharge.
The city has pledged to build itself as the most modern city of Vietnam. But Neale said the “cruelty” of the dolphin park does not give that ambition any help.
“Da Nang’s reputation and future should not be signed away so cheaply.”
The organization said in a Facebook post: "Animal cruelty belongs to the past. We believe it would damage Da Nang's future."
Keeping dolphins and other animals in captivity has been either banned or restricted in several countries.
Croatia, Cyprus, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland, Chile and Costa Rica ban keeping dolphins in captivity while India prohibits the development of dolphinaria. Greece banned animal performances from 2012 and the UK has no captive facilities.

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