ACRES seeks probe over possible cruelty to RWS dolphins

ACRES files a request to investigate possible animal cruelty to dolphins at the Marine Line Park. (Photo courtesy of ACRES)

An animal welfare group filed a request to government veterinary authorities to investigate possible cruelty to dolphins at the Marine Life Park in Sentosa.

In a statement released on Friday, Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) said that despite appeals to Resorts World Sentosa not to hold firework displays near the enclosures where wild-caught dolphins are kept, the hotel and casino operator went ahead with the fireworks for the park’s grand opening last December.

Loud noises can disorientate dolphins and distress them, said ACRES, which filed its request with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

According to the Animals and Birds (Pet Shop and Exhibition) Act, said the animal rights group, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) could have flouted AVA rules when it failed to “keep the animals in an environment that is conducive to their well-being, to allow them to display their natural range of activities and behaviours” by subjecting its dolphins to a 12-minute fireworks display.

“ACRES is concerned that the dolphins may be terrified by or suffer as a result of firework displays. We once again appeal to RWS to cease any firework displays near the dolphin enclosures” said Louis Ng, the head of Singapore-based ACRES.

In response, an MLP spokesperson said the dolphins are currently doing well at the park and an experienced team of husbandry professions constantly monitor them.

“We place the highest priority on the health and comfort of all our animals, and would never, under any circumstances, compromise their well-being in any way.  MLP’s facility is designed such that all other activities and operations in the resort would not adversely impact the animals,” the spokeperson said.

MLP is no stranger to controversies surrounding its wild-caught dolphins.

RWS bought 27 bottlenose dolphins from the Solomon Islands between 2008 and 2009. Three died before arriving in Singapore, one in November last year upon arrival from the Philippines, and two at a holding area in Malaysia in. All three dolphins died from acute bacterial infection.

Ng and other animal activists around the region have been campaigning for the release of the remaining dolphins.