THE Sydney Swans have done what the ABC would not and bowed to public pressure over their involvement with a dolphin entertainment park.
The Swans were scheduled to swim with the exhibits at Dolphin Marine Magic in Coffs Harbour yesterday morning — including a 45-year-old dolphin called Bucky who is in remission from cancer — but cancelled under a barrage of complaints from concerned fans.
DMM is under investigation by the Department of Primary Industries following a petition of more than 12,000 signatures from Australia For Dolphins demanding an inquiry into the restrictive conditions in which the dolphins are kept and its ongoing “intensive human contact and animal rides”, which are against DPI regulations.
Last year,The Australianrevealed that the family of Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson had swum with the DMM dolphins less than a year before her department granted the park a new licence that included a “variation” on the number of dolphins to be kept in one pool.
The ABC has been slammed for spending taxpayers’ money on co-producing the showBlue Zoo, which features children teaching the dolphins at DMM to perform tricks. Using animals as entertainment is also banned in the statement of ethics of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Swans received hundreds of complaints on Facebook and Twitter when news of the visit came to light.
“It was only ever a couple of guys going for the swim,” a spokesman for the Swans said. “We were made aware of the ongoing investigation and we decided to cancel it.”
Australia For Dolphins founder Sarah Lucas toldThe Australianthe Swans’ decision sent an “important message”.
“(For) Dolphin Marine Magic, that Australians expect marine parks to meet animal welfare standards,” she said.
“More broadly, it’s indicative of the fact that public opinion has dramatically changed on dolphin entertainment and people no longer think it’s OK to get in the water and treat dolphins like boogie boards.’’
“Dolphin Marine Magic is the only park in Australia that offers dolphin rides. The Swans did the right thing.” The Swans swam with the dolphins last year.