On the State of Dolphins in Singapore


Image from therealsingapore.com

Image from therealsingapore.com

Singapore, a country long known for its record of human rights abuses from the suppression of freedom of speech to the use of capital punishment, now finds itself entangled in an animals’ rights fiasco.

On the 22 November 2012, Wen Wen, a male dolphin who was on a three hour flight from the Philippines to Singapore bound for Singapore’s casino, Resorts World Sentosa, passed away en route. He was approximately ten years old, a juvenile age for dolphin death, and transported to Singapore despite pending court motions filed in Quezon City, Philippines. As such, Resorts World Sentosa was found to be in contempt of court, but showed flagrant disregard for the demands of Philippines’ judicial system, resulting in lack of accountability for the death of Wen Wen. Resorts World Sentosa was to use the dolphin in its water show

For several years, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) have actively campaigned and petitioned to the Resorts World Sentosa to “rehabilitate and release the dolphins back into Solomon Islands waters”, according to Channel News Asia. Their partner organizations in the Philippines have taken Resorts World Sentosa and two government agencies to court to attempt to stop the export of the Indo-Pacific Bottle Nosed Dolphins. Since 2008, 3 of the 27 dolphins acquired from the Solomon Islands have died in captivity, running counter to the spirit and notion of conservation. While Resorts World Sentosa asserts that the employed “experts and specialists are animal lovers themselves”, their actions speak louder than words, and the inhospitable conditions under which the dolphins were found to live in runs opposite to that.

For example, the fireworks that go on at Resorts World Sentosa create loud noises in close proximity to the living quarters of the dolphins which may “disorientate and distress them”, according to AsiaOne News. Similarly, in Switzerland, Shadow, an eight-year-old dolphin, was found dead after a “huge techno event” near where he was kept. Furthermore, the dolphins were housed in small pools that not only trapped them and inhibited movement, but inhibited the use of their acoustic abilities as well. While dialogue is, in theory, the best way to resolve this issue of rights, it seems futile, as ACRES has not yet been able to engage in active and fruitful discourse on the issue of animal rights with Resorts World Sentosa. As such, they are considering launching a large-scale boycott of Resorts World Sentosa and other establishments owned by the same group. While a boycott might work, ultimately I hope that ACRES can engage the public to raise their voices and opinions to pressure the “higher ups” at Resort World Sentosa to consider the environment and the repercussions of their actions for the sake of the dolphins, for rights, and for the environment.

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