Bucky the dolphin is very elderly and has recently suffered from cancer. Despite his health and age, Bucky is still forced to regularly perform demeaning circus shows and pull heavy tourists around on his back.
You might not believe it, but this abuse is happening in our very own backyard, at a theme park called Dolphin Marine Magic (DMM) in the NSW coastal town of Coffs Harbour.
AFD believes DMM is misleading consumers by telling people dolphins are “happy and healthy” in captivity. That’s why AFD recently launched legal action against DMM in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. This legal case is the first of its kind in Australia and AFD intends to call leading experts to prove captive dolphins suffer stress, anxiety and early death.
In the wild, Bucky and his family would travel tens or hundreds of kilometres each day. At DMM, they are cramped into swimming pools which do not even meet the minimum requirements of the 20-year-old, outdated legal standards.
In contravention of the NSW Dolphin Standards, which ban direct contact between the public and dolphins, DMM also allows paying tourists to ride on the dolphins, “boogie board” on the dolphins, and hang their heavy bodies off the dolphins’ fragile fins. DMM also markets dolphin “kisses" (its phone number is 1300 KISSES), even though NSW law bans the kissing of animals. There is a good reason for this legal ban - mouth-to-mouth contact with humans exposes the dolphins to dangerous pathogens and diseases.
Thanks to AFD's investigations and public campaign, these breaches have been exposed in The Australian, the ABC and Fairfax newspapers. In late 2014, as a result of our petition which was signed by thousands of supporters, the authorities announced an investigation into DMM for animal welfare breaches.
AFD's work on Dolphin Marine Magic has been greatly supported by Voiceless, the animal protection institute. In 2016, AFD received a Voiceless grant to run a major advertising campaign in Coffs Harbour. In 2017, AFD was the proud recipient of both the Voiceless People's Choice Award, which is decided by popular vote, and the Director's Award. This enabled the first television campaign against dolphin captivity in Australia. It also assisted AFD in launching legal action challenging whether dolphins are truly "happy and healthy" in captivity.
AFD is continuing to pressure DMM on all fronts to provide better conditions for Bucky and his family. We are working with a local dolphin rehabilitation organisation to promote the establishment of a sea sanctuary near Coffs Harbour, where Bucky and his family could have the lives they deserve in the ocean.
If you would like to help achieve this for Bucky and his family, we’d love you to become an AFD member. Please sign our petition calling for an end to dolphin captivity in NSW and we’ll keep you regularly updated on this important campaign!