Dolphins Don't belong in Traveling Circus
As hard as it is to believe, dolphin traveling circuses are a big hit in Indonesia. There are three separate companies running these inhumane operations, much to the delight of the uninformed spectators who pay pennies each to see the dolphins perform.
There are 72 dolphins currently enslaved in Indonesia illegally, many of which are in captivity in these three traveling circuses. The following three separate companies still run traveling dolphin shows on the main Indonesian island of Java: WSI, Taman Safari Indonesia and Ancol.
These 72 bottlenose and stenella dolphins are kept in the most appalling of conditions to preform for audiences across island of Java. The animals are frequently hauled out of their plastic performing pools and loaded into the back of trucks along with other animals as the circuses move from town to town.
The transportation is so stressful for the animals that many of the dolphins die due to this stress and lack of proper care.
There is also evidence that all of the dolphins have all been caught illegally from the wild. Other animals kept in the circus are baby sunbears, small clawed otters, yellow crested cockatoos and an orangutan.
- Governor of Jakarta
Dr. Ing H. Fauzi Bowo
- Indonesian Ambassador to the United States
Dr. Dino Patti Djalal
- U.K. Ambassador to Indonesia
Teuku Mohammad Hamzah Thayeb
- U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia
- Ministry of Forestry
Director General of Forestry Protection and Nature Conservation
- Ministry of Forestry
- President of Indonesia
The Hon. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President
We write to you out of concern for the wellbeing of dolphins, a protected species both on
worldwide level and in your country under the national biodiversity law Nr 5, 1990.
Indonesia is the last country in the world where dolphins are used in traveling circus shows.
The show is legalized under the Minister regulation ‘Peraturan Menteri Kehutanan Nomor:
P.52/Menhut-II.2006. The show is owned by a company named Wersut Seguni Indonesia
(WSI) and uses, besides dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), Malayan sunbears (Helarctos
malayanus), cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) and otters (Aonyx cinerea). We have serious
concerns about the welfare of these animals.
The show keeps 26 dolphins and has a permit for only 6, meaning that 20 dolphins are kept
without any permit from the authorities and should be returned back in to the wild. Arranging a
permit is a costly and long process possibly resulting in rejection, therefore the company
avoided this process by ordering dolphins from fishermen and taking them in as ‘rescues’, so
the local Forestry Department’ Office, in this case BKSDA Jawa Tengah, would provide
temporary permits until rehabilitation and release would be posible.
The dolphins at WSI were harvested from the wild without permit and the forestry department
requested our help in August 2010 to rehabilitate these dolphins and return them back into
the wild, a very costly and intensive activity, needing expertise and a big financial injection.
In October 2010 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Forestry
Department (KKH) and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), a NGO founded in Jakarta.
With international support a prestigious program was started to help protect, rehabilitate and
release illegally kept captive dolphins. This MOU would also assist the Indonesian authorities
with the protection of dolphins throughout Indonesia by education programs and workshops to
end the illegal captures of dolphins as bait to catch sharks by foreign (mostly Chinese)
On March 10th 2011, the first captive dolphins should have been relocated to the rehabilitation
facilities yet without any clear reason, the Indonesian Forestry Department cancelled the
whole operation one-hour prior departure.
Since then the program has been on-hold and the Forestry Department keeps promising to
release the dolphins but avoids any clear written answers to why the dolphins were not
relocated last March and why the facilities for rehabilitation remain empty until present. Not
just all parties involved with the construction of the rehabilitation facilities in the Karimun Jawa
National Park in the Java Sea now feel a big emotional and financial loss but also the
Indonesian Forestry Department is again exposed as being an untrustable institution not
concerned about the protection of Indonesian Wildlife.
I sincerely urge you to uphold the MOU and to revoke the permits provided to the travel show.
Thank you and I look forward to your favorable reply.
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