We can observe two dolphins on a dry plastic floor next to a pool in the picture. A family of 4 – a man, woman and their two young kids are taking photos by smiling next to the dolphin. Gradually, turn by turn people were posing for pictures over there.
On December 9, at one of Indonesia’s notorious travelling circuses, an investigator from Movement to End Animal Circuses in Indonesia filmed this whole scene which was being performed in the city of Tangerang.
Dolphins were forced to perform tricks in tiny, temporary pools filled with chlorinated water at these circuses. They are operated by several companies in Indonesia. This type of activities can have dire consequences to dolphins’ health.
“They go blind,” Femke Den Haas, founder of Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), told. “It’s like when you go in the pool, and after an hour, your eyes hurt because you’re exposed to chlorine all the time. And they get skin diseases and they also get ulcers because chlorine gets into their body.”
The Dolphins are loaded onto stretchers and are packed into boxes as soon as the show finishes in the city so that they can be transported in the next city.
Lincoln O’Barry, campaigns coordinator at Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project said, “I think having to travel all the time in the stretchers would cause chafing on the skin. Dolphins are also used to living in the water — their organs are used to living in that weightless condition. I’m sure spending so much time out of the water also affects their physiology.”
They tend to feed unhygienic foods to dolphins due to which they die prematurely due to the stress of captivity. At the same time, they do not receive proper medical care in these circuses.
NamiraAnnisa, spokesperson for Movement to End Animal Circuses in Indonesia, which is part of the FLIGHT Foundation said, “All circus animals suffer and are abused, day after day. They languish in these circuses, away from their natural habitats. But these circuses argue that the use of animals is ‘education.’ Is it? The public has been wrongly informed.”
The dolphins being kept out of the water are also facing various issues. At most of the circuses, In order to take pictures with the dolphins and even kiss them, dolphins are trained to slide out of the pool.
According to Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), keeping dolphins out of the water for any length of time would be very stressful to the animals.
“This is more like being stranded and the dolphins’ bodies probably respond at least partially (minus the fear and emotional stress, since they have been trained to do this and know it’s not permanent) as if they are stranded,” Rose said.
“It’s stressful, as a simple matter of physiology — no matter what the facilities that conduct these encounters say, it’s a matter of fact, not opinion,” Rose added. “Cetacean bodies do not handle being out of the water for lengthy periods, which is relative to them [the dolphins] — more than a few seconds is ‘lengthy’ to a fully aquatic mammal.”
Not only dolphins but also animals like otters, sun bears and cockatoos are forced to perform in the circuses.
“I think the dolphins [are] kept out of the water just … so the audience can see the whole body of the dolphin,” Annisa told.
“The dolphin should not be allowed to sit there like that, while a terrestrial mammal is performing next to it,” Rose told. “Aside from the stress on the animal’s physiology by remaining out of the water for a prolonged period, it’s not hygienic — being adjacent to a terrestrial mammal like this isn’t natural and therefore from a husbandry perspective isn’t wise.”
While travelling to the circus, the Indonesian Oriental Circus has stopped using animals for their shows and hopefully, other circuses may also eventually close down or at least they would stop using dolphins. Annisa hopes that others will support her. “This has set an important precedent, and we hope that many other circuses will follow,” Annisa told.
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