But, the ministry’s statutory body, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), has asked all states not to entertain any application for setting up of dolphinariums without its prior permission.“The AWBI certificate has to be pre-facto and cannot be post facto…it is pertinent to note that ABWI has not issued any certificate to cetaceans and has taken decision not to issue performing certificate to cetaceans in future,” the circular issued on Monday said.
The board believes that allowing import of these animals for the purpose of display and performance would amount to cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960.
The reason that the mortality rate shoots up six-fold in case of captured bottlenose dolphins and do not drop to normal levels even 35-45 days after being captured. Exposure to loud sounds --- airborne and underwater --- can also physiologically stress cetaceans.
And, these were said to be a prime reason for death of four imported dolphins at India’s first dolphinariums in Chennai in mid-1990s. Many countries across the world such as Britain, Chile and Brazil has banned display of captured dolphins, which became popular after United States set up such parks initially.
Not only captivity of dolphins is bad for their health, the board said, they also “mis-educate” public about wildlife and marine environment. “They (people) tend to believe that the tricks they see are how cetaceans truly behave in the wild and they are pets,” the board said in its three-page circular.Under the rules, import of dolphins, which swim 150 kms in a day, is allowed only after obtaining permission from a government authority. The board says no such permission should be given by the states without its consent.