Dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa: To boycott or not?

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

The highly-anticipated final attraction of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), the Marine Life Park (MLP), opens its doors on Friday but not without a dark cloud hanging over the sprawling attraction.

Much of the headlines in recent weeks has been surrounding the condition of the 24 bottlenose dolphins now under its care.

Three died before even arriving in Singapore – two during their initial confinement period in Langkawi, Malaysia, and one just last month on its plane flight into Singapore.
Now animal welfare group ACRES has urged a boycott of the MLP and related properties under the Genting family as a final resort until the dolphins are released from captivity.

"You can see that the swimming pools are not only small but also filthy," said Louis Ng, founder of ACRES, after a visit to the dolphin enclosure at MLP.

Labelling the conditions the dolphins live in as “appalling”, he said even humans may shy away from taking a dip in the pool.

"We have tried our very best to establish a dialogue with RWS, but they have ignored our calls for meetings and turned a deaf ear to our concerns,” he said in a media statement.

“RWS continues with their plans to confine the dolphins, despite the deaths of three dolphins under their care and scientific studies confirming that the trade in these dolphins was unsustainable and pushed this species one step closer towards extinction in the Solomon Islands."

In a final push to get them released, ACRES said its final ultimatum would be to launch a full-fledged boycott against all Genting properties unless RWS works with ACRES to rehabilitate and release the dolphins.
Will the public support a mass boycott, though?

Wildlife conservation undergrad Delia Quek, for one, told Yahoo! Singapore that the methods used by ACRES are a tad bit extreme.
"Eco-tourism can be sustainable if handled properly, and pink dolphins aren't exactly endangered," Quek said.
"But I think RWS will still go ahead with the dolphins because the profits they earn over the long run would still be more than that spent on fending off ACRES," she added.
Yahoo! reader Lim Yi Shan 28, said she feels ashamed as a Singaporean because  a profit-only company to tarnish our reputation.
"This December, my three dearest friends from overseas will visit Singapore but I will not be bringing them to Sentosa even though that's a highlight in most guidebooks," said the business development manager.
"More than one internationally recognized agencies have opposed the import of dolphins and have shared how keeping dolphins in captivity may be detrimental... Why then has Singapore allowed a profit-driven entity to go against this and give the country a bad name?" Lim continued.
Student Sarah Peh, 22, said she was planning to visit the Marine Life Park with friends but is now re-considering because of the dolphins' plight.
"I'd support ACRES but I don't think I'll boycott RWS. I might sign a petition and if they don't take action, I'll re-consider going to the marine park. It's going to be a tough one because I'm not usually keen on such things, but this time round, RWS is making the attraction such a big thing that people like me do want to go and visit," said Peh.
"I'll see how the situation develops and decide if I want to go later in the future," she added.
How about you? Would you support a boycott of RWS because of the dolphins?

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Video: Dolphins found shot, mutilated
Singapore gets dolphins after tussle with activists