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Marine Park denies wrongdoing over dolphin’s captive conditions
by Paul Cachia,


Malta (di-ve news)

22nd October 2003

'Mediterraneo', Malta's marine park denied any wrongdoing related to the conditions in which the dolphins are being kept at Bahar ic-Caghaq.

Amid a controversy concerning the importation of the six dolphins into Malta, park spokesperson Patrick Vella refuted claims that they failed to inform the veterinary services when one of their dolphins in captivity died last March.

"At the park, we do nothing illegal. All our activities are regulated by international rules. A post-mortem examination on the dolphins' carcass was carried out. All dolphins died of old age", he explained.

Six new bottlenose dolphins were imported from the 'Acuario Nacional de Cuba' last month. "We received certificates that these dolphins were kept in captivity for the last past two years", he said.

Animal rights NGOs claimed that wild dolphins kept in captivity at parks live short, stressed and unhealthy lives.

Presently at the park, there is another dolphin, Budvan, the only surviving one from the first group of four dolphins imported when the park opened its doors to the public.

The aging dolphin is held in quarantine, slowly phasing in his integration with the new group of dolphins, the park spokesman said.

A number of local animal rights NGOs protested against the importation of these dolphins, calling on local authorities to protect wild dolphins in other regions by not allowing trade to Malta.

Mr. Patrick Vella retorted: "Only lately have these NGOs expressed their concern over the conditions where the dolphins are being kept. For the past years they kept quiet on the case, perhaps because we have been financing the research of two of these NGOs".

"It is not our intention to conceal any information from the public. I invite these people to come and see with their own eyes what we are doing at the park", he said.

The Marine Park of Bahar ic-Caghaq will undergo structural alterations in the coming months with a capital investment of around Lm2 million, following a strategic partnership agreement with Portugal's Mundo Aquatico.

In the past months, we have upgraded all our facilities with new filtration systems for seawater.

"Our intention is to bring over new species of animals but also to invest heavily in research", Patrick Vella said.

The Marine Park is also setting up a sort of 'dolphins' hospital' for wild dolphins washed ashore.