ACRES calls for public pressure on RWS dolphin enclosure

Some of the 25 dolphins currently in training in a marine park in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of ACRES)

Animal activists in Singapore are calling on the public to pile pressure on Resorts World Sentosa to set free 25 dolphins now bound for the city-state after a legal order preventing the mammals’ shipment expired.

Permits for the dolphins, currently being held in the Philippines, were granted on Thursday after a judge there overturned an initial decision to halt the export of the animals, said Louis Ng, the head of Singapore-based Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES).

Following a petition that has so far garnered some 680,000 signatures of support from members of the public, Ng said ACRES wants to take this one step further -- to add a personal touch to the plea by sending emails directly to RWS chief executive officer Tan Hee Teck from its website.

“Ultimately, Resorts World Sentosa relies on public support and public dollars in order to carry on its business, and we feel that if the public starts to speak up on this issue and take direct action, Resorts World will eventually realise that this is not something that is profitable,” Ng said in a press briefing on Friday.

In the meantime, ACRES' Philippine counterparts, the Earth Island Institute and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, on Friday filed a motion in court to again order the halt of the dolphins shipment.

Ng explained that ACRES has not yet sought Singapore government pressure on RWS as the decision lies in the hands of the casino-resort, which plans to house the dolphins in an enclosure as part of an “oceanarium” slated to open in Sentosa in December.

“The key thing is that this (scrapping plans for its second dolphin enclosure) is a decision that Resorts World has to make,” said Ng. “The reality at this point is that there is a contract (standing between the government and RWS). The government cannot ask Resorts World to take dolphins off the list; it has to be the other way round.”

ACRES is asking RWS to scrap its plans for the dolphin enclosure and to release the 25 dolphins to the animal rights group and the Earth Island Institute so both groups can prepare the animals for safe release into the wild.

RWS' Marine Life Park spokesperson said they "are sparing no effort and time" to ensure marine animals at the park get the care they require.

"There is much to be done to ensure the Marine Life Park will make Singapore proud. We have already spent considerable time educating Acres on facts about our facility, animal care and intent, and we want to move on to the matters at hand," the spokesperson said.

The person also urged the animal welfare group to focus on areas where it can constructively contribute to marine conservation rather than engage in "online antics".

On whether it would be expect RWS to foot the bill for the process, Ng says the non-profit groups would be happy to help raise the funds to do so independently.

The animal welfare society launched a new campaign video on Friday morning that features interviews with residents of the Solomon Islands, from which the dolphins hail, as well as a section on its website allowing members of the public to send letters to the integrated resort operator that appeal for it to change its mind about opening the second dolphin enclosure in its oceanarium.

To send an appeal directly to Resorts World Sentosa, click here. To learn more about the campaign, click here to see their main website.

Watch the video here: