21 December, 2007

AARF Critical

Anguilla Animal Rescue Foundation Criticises “Dolphinarium” Blog as Irresponsible. AARF is Anguilla’s premier animal protection society. It looks after any animal in distress. It reports to the authorities on acts of cruelty to animals. It should have a deep and abiding concern for Anguilla’s dolphins. Those whose principal interest lies in little puppies and pussies should not be contending with those more concerned with the plight of our endangered iguana or the holding in a prison in Anguilla of eight dolphins. They have a common cause. They should be natural allies. They should not be attacking each other’s efforts on behalf of dumb and helpless animals. That causes a waste of energy and a loss of focus. So, imagine my concern, if not consternation, when the following press release dated 18 December was given to me today.

It was only on 16 December that this blog broke the story on the deplorable condition in which the dolphins were then held. Photographs taken on 11 December were shown. It was hardly an irresponsible coverage. The evidence was there before all our eyes. Now, officers of AARF have visited the site. It was two days after we reported the story here. They say they found the dolphins “in great shape and extremely well cared for”. They saw what they saw. They wrote what they wrote. They say they “cannot condone irresponsible press releases”. They condemn those “who wish for an animal to suffer and die in order to attract public attention”. This critique must refer to the blog of 16 December. There was no other press release on the subject. Unless it is Nat Hodge’s news article in Thursday’s issue of The Anguillian newspaper. He published some photographs that were not on my blog. I assume he had access to the person who took them and to those who visited the site then. He wrote his own story, and did not quote mine. He wrote, “Though not in colour, these photographs present a gruesome reality of the environment of the captive dolphins”. Enough said about conditions at that date.

Let us leap forward to today 21 December. By coincidence, one of my correspondents visited the site today. My correspondent took more photographs. Let us look at them and determine for ourselves what they show.

This is a shot of the outflow pipe onto the beach. It shows that the pumps are not running today. I accept that they must be capable of running to have been able to top up the tanks that are shown in the photographs of 11 December. It is very costly to run the pumps all the time.

This one shows the algae oozing out of the dolphin tanks. If this is what comes out of the discharge pipe, the water can hardly be described accurately as clear and with the pens clean. One has to ask how the government vet who helped write this press release could have reported to the executive committee of AARF that “he had visited the facility earlier in the month and reported to us at that that time, that the water was seen to be clean, no chemicals were in use, the water circulating system was working . . . This is shown by the photographs taken in early December, and earlier published, not to be true.

This photo shows scum and debris floating on the top of the water today. Did it all grow back since the visit of AARF on 18 December? It is difficult to see how so much algae could have grown in the few days that had passed. Did AARF miss it on their visit?

There were originally eight dolphins on the site. There are only two visible in the tank at this time. At any rate, only two were alive and well enough to swim around and show themselves today when these photographs were being taken. I am told that in the dead of the night last night, a cargo plane flew in to Wallblake Airport and, with the assistance of the local customs and veterinary authorities, four of the dolphins were shipped off the island. We are told they are going temporarily to Tortola. So, there should be four dolphins left in Anguilla. Does anyone know what happened to the apparently missing two?

The water level in the above photograph is higher than the level shown in the photographs in the post of 16 December. The tank has obviously been topped up recently. My correspondent writes me that you have only to look into the water and you can see that while the surface of the water is relatively clear, the muck on the bottom has not been removed. It is as filthy as it was before. My correspondent’s exact words are, “I shot views to show that the water level is back up to par. It appears to me that the tank has been cleaned "cosmetically" around the edges as when I looked hard into the bottom of the tank I could see clumps of algae, etc.” It would appear that after the story broke, the dolphin people hurriedly turned back on the pumps and topped up the tanks. They did a little surface cleaning, no more than that. If the missing two dolphins are still there, it means that the water is too dirty to see them.

Those in Anguilla who do not understand what all this fuss is over “a bunch of fish” must be laughing.

I am ashamed of AARF.


  1. In an attempt to be fair and balanced, why is the text of report, presented in such miniscule font?
    I could not present my opinion, whilst viewing one side only.

  2. *sigh* I already wrote off AARF years ago when I had a situation with a rescue animal that was neither a dog nor a cat. I was instantly shut down and turned away.
    I can't stand hypocrites. *shakes head in disgust*
    A next thing is look at who AARF is composed of. Then look at the censorship and silencing that goes on in Anguilla. Nuff said.

  3. I am truly sorry about the "miniscule font". That is because I scanned the press release and stored it as a .jpb. The system considers it a mere photograph.

    To view it in all its glory, you have to click on it. You will then see it in bigger print than you ever wanted to.

    Just remember, when you have finished reading it, to click on the "go back" icon on the top of your browser.


  4. This wouldn't be the first time DD has moved their animals at night. They prefer to do it at night when people are sleeping and less apt to see the whole spectacle. Catching dolphins and putting them in crates and then loading them onto a truck and then a plane isn't a pretty sight.

    The media and public are always banned from being present or taking photos.

  5. I don't think your response is hysterical. I think AARF is being irrational. But these are rational, educated people, so I continue to be mystified. Was Vanterpool paid off? That I could believe, but how did he get Chris to go along with this?

    Are you sure the plane left in the middle of the night? This would require paying a bunch of people overtime and would be expensive. It doesn't sound like DD's style.

  6. It is quite believable that, between the time the pictures were taken and the visit of Pat and Chris, the operators of the facility were stung into much overdue action by the outcry and did some cosmetic cleaning-up for the benefit of their visitors. If Don had not posted the news in his blog, the situation would have remained unchanged and there would have been no visit from AARF. The pictures on Don’s blog are date stamped 11 December 2007. If Dr Vanterpool went to the facility earlier in the month and found the water was clean and circulating, that no chemicals were being used and that there were 4 people taking care of the creatures, things must have deteriorated rapidly between then and 11 December. Or – pictures don’t lie …. !

    I accept that the visit to the site may have been unscheduled and impromptu but that is not to say that the operators did not nor could not have received advanced warning, so it cannot be proven either way whether such a visit would be unexpected.

  7. I know some of the “dolphin activists” who were prepared to be keen supporters of AARF at the time of the establishment of that organization but were dismayed by the extent to which Dr Vanterpool and the developer, Graham Simpson, seemed to be too close to each other.

    That perceived connection (as well as criticism of Dr Vanterpool’s refusal to entertain any other veterinarian on the island) has deprived AARF of support over the years from people who would otherwise instinctively give it.

  8. The information regarding “clean pens” and “clear water” is in direct contradiction of 3rd-party photos taken since the AARF unscheduled visit. The pictures show that the pumps are not running and that there is algae oozing out of an outlet pipe. The algae is as thick as it was in the shots on Don's Blog. The water level is back up to par.

    The tank has been cleaned "cosmetically" around the edges.

  9. I have no idea what are the hallmarks of a dolphin in good physical shape and I doubt if Pat or Chris’s experience or training in these matters makes them experts either.

  10. For as long as AARF has been and remains mute on the fact that dolphins are in captivity in an enclosed area (tantamount to a dog being tethered on a 5 foot chain), let alone being subjected to unnatural interaction with humans, it has had and will continue to have a credibility problem with many who would otherwise support it, or support it more.

    I have to say that the final comments in AARF’s press release give me cause to doubt the extent to which they can count on my support in the future.

  11. The first thing I notice is that the dolphin's dorsal fin is starting to fall over. Not a bad sign. Not good at all...

  12. I was appalled by this response given under the name of the Anguilla Animal Rescue Foundation, which was obviously written by the Government. This is absolutely NOT a response from an animal welfare organization. It was nice though, of AARF to lend the Government it's name and letterhead.

    Any animal welfare group would have first THANKED Don for his blog, his concern for the dolphins and for bringing to their attention the plight of the dolphins. Then they would have reported the ENTIRE TRUTH. They would have mentioned the original pictures showed scum on the surface of the water, an unacceptable amount of algae and the water level unacceptably low. They would have said on their visit they found the water clean and the dolphins appearing well cared for. They would have admitted that it's obvious there have been improvements made in the conditions of Dolphin Fantaseas since the pictures of December 11th. They would have provided pictures from their visit.

    They would have assured the public that they will continue to monitor this situation until the dolphins are relocated, and that they would do so on a public forum. Gee, since Don has this great blog and brought the story to the forefront perhaps they could have suggested they'd keep Don apprised of developments so that he can keep those concerned in the loop.

    Instead they have chosen to try to quiet the story and discredit Don and others who were trying to bring the plight of these animals to the public eye. I don't know what the veterinarian saw a month ago, but the water wasn't "clean" on December 11th as evidenced by the scum floating on the top. But, I guess that the veterinarian and AARF think that the public are dumb enough to disregard something clearly shown in a picture. Also, who are these "individuals who wish for an animal to die and suffer in order to attract public attention"? Could I be one because I made a web page about this plight?

    I know from reading your blog Don that the citizens of Anguilla appreciate what you do. So do I and many like me. It's a shame but a fact of life that Governments all over the world, big and small, are rife with corruption on all levels. We can only do so much.

    I plan to keep my web page up until all the dolphins have been removed from Meads Bay.
    This reply under the name of Anguilla Animal Rescue Foundation totally ignores the concerns of the public and does nothing to explain the reasons for the conditions of the pens clearly seen on the photos of December 11th, how they came to be clean, and one that offers no follow up to make sure conditions remain clean until the dolphins are relocated. It is obviously written from a political point of view.

    I think that tone of the reply speaks for itself and based on this I will continue to urge outside agencies to become involved. Obviously there must be someone who does not have a stake financially or politically overseeing Dolphin Fantaseas until the dolphins can be safely relocated.

  13. You in Anguilla have only now begun to experience what we went through. Thank God, we got rid of them in the end. That is because we were united, and we had the help of our politicians. Read this newspaper report at the time:

    Monday, November 29, 2004


    The unplugged drains that have made life and making a livelihood a nightmare for people in the Marina Bay area are open. And the nine dolphins from Dolphin Discovery were on Saturday airlifted to Tortola, resulting in the start of a resolution that has dominated the news in recent time.

    The dolphins were eventually packed up and transported to VC Bird International Airport where they were loaded into two DC3's chartered from San Juan. The task played out true to form, with crowds gathering at Marina Bay, resistance, grandstanding and the intervention of police and two parliamentarians.

    Deputy Prime Minister Wilmoth Daniel, along with police officers and MP for the area John Maginley, was instrumental in overseeing the removal of the dolphins.

    "We did give permission for the people of Dolphin Discovery for them to remove the dolphins and take them to a safer place, in order for us to be able to release the water that has been affecting the people down in the area," Daniel said.

    He said he made his way to the area after he realized there was disturbance.

    "After I heard that, I came straight down, and we were able to organize for the police," Daniel reported. "And we were able to stop the people, who were blocking the entrance, from them removing the dolphins to put them in some boxes in order to take them up to the airport to put them on a plane."

    Daniel recounted that a backhoe was used to unclog the drains once the dolphins were no longer an issue. He said that cement bags, concrete blocks, sponges and sacks had been used to block the drains.

    "As soon as we unclogged that, the water start rushing, and if you go on the western side you will see how the water is gushing through. So, clearly, if something like this was done earlier, then these people over there would have had less problems in terms of their businesses and also getting into their homes," Daniel said.

    The dolphins are in Tortola temporarily, and will, Daniel noted, be brought back to Antigua once the owners find a suitable place to set up shop.

    News of the dolphins' relocation has done little to appease environmentalists opposed to dolphins in captivity.

    Reportedly, the dolphins from Antigua are being housed at the lagoon at Prospect Reef Hotel in the British Virgin Islands, where Dolphin Discovery has a sister company.

    But environmentalists have raised a new cry, saying that the facility already has eight dolphins, and the space is too confined for an additional nine. The environmentalists have also voiced hope that the dolphin encounter programme never return to Antigua.

    "The government had to do something. We gave the dolphin people and we gave the owners, who rented the area to them, enough time for them to try and solve the problem," Daniel said, explaining his involvement in the issue.

  14. According to a comment posted last night:

    "A next thing is look at who AARF is composed of. Then look at the censorship and silencing that goes on in Anguilla. Nuff said."

    According to an article in The Anguillian of 31 August 2007, the newly-elected Board of AARF consisted of:

    President – Chris Carty
    Vice–President – Suzie Donahue
    Secretary – Kimberly Fleming
    Treasurer – Jackie Pascher
    Members at Large – Gayle Gurvey and Linda Gratton

  15. The photos that were used on your blog WERE OF THE MAIN POOL AREAS.
    Otherwise the surrounding areas that AARF speaks about are the defunct buildings, restaurant and office buildings. Thats all.

  16. We're not the only ones who are crazy. This week's "Anguillian" has seven pictures showing the filth. All seven show parts of the dolphin pool, not some “adjacent area”. Two of these also depict dolphins swimming next to the filth.

  17. Here is a 2003 newspaper article demonstrating how the dolphins are moved to the BVI at night:

    BVI Standpoint February 18th 2003 Vol 3 No 3

    "Dolphins return to Prospect Reef
    Mexico-based company sets up shop with four animals
    By Susanna Henighan

    Dolphins have returned to Prospect Reef Resort.

    Dolphin Discovery, one of the world’s largest marine mammal companies, has opened shop at Prospect Reef in Road Town.

    The Mexico-based company, which has 58 dolphins located among its four locations, moved four male dolphins - Atlas, Icaro, Poseidon and Calypso - to Tortola last week.

    The dolphins arrived at the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport at 1am Thursday aboard a chartered airplane.

    It had been a long day: the animals and the crew of humans travelling with them left Cancun, Mexico, in the morning. Two stops for refuelling and a delay due to bad weather explained the extra-long trip.

    While humans may have found such a trip exhausting, the dolphins were not stressed by the travel, according to a Dolphin Discovery official. "The travel was very smooth. It’s actually a relaxing experience for them," said Renat (sic) Lenzi, head of research, animal care and veterinary care for Dolphin Discovery.

    Later Thursday, the government veterinarian inspected the animals. "He is very surprised to see how well they are doing" Lenzi said.

    On Saturday afternoon, the dolphins were swimming around the facility, after participating in one of their first swim programmes with a group of tourists.

    Dolphin Discovery is the second company to open a programme at Prospect Reef. The first, Dolphin Plus, began operations in Fall 2001, but left the facility last year and moved the animals to Dominica. One dolphin died days after the move.

    Concerns have been raised about the water quality at the Prospect Reef facility. Lenzi said that Dolphin Discovery began testing the water here last November and has never found it to be unsafe.

    "We have found all the values to be within US Dept of Agriculture standards for marine mammals" he said.

    In addition to concerns about the water quality, it was clear to passers-by that the Dolphins Plus facility was not nearly as popular among tourists as had been hoped; there appeared to be few customers at the facility each day.

    So is Dolphin Discovery confident it will be able to lure more business?

    "We would not have come out here if we didn’t think this was somewhere that would be safe for the animals and would make business sense," Lenzi said, noting that although it is just nine years old, Dolphin Discovery is a large, experienced business.

    Lenzi pledged that company practices exceed the animal safety standards required by the US, Europe and Mexico."

  18. The government of Anguilla and AARF should hang their heads in shame.
    And to think that the only doctor (I use the word advisedly) on the island for animals refuses to allow another Veterinarian on the island(who might just know their practice a bit more expertly)speaks volumes against his questionable skill.
    The entire episode should be reported and shown in every country for people to see what is really going on and how the cowardly government is attempting to shield the truth instead of standing up to their mistakes and rectifying them.

  19. An article in todays St Maarten Herald repeats AARF press release. It also says testing of the water will continue there. Why aren't the results of these "water tests" published???

  20. I could not believe my eyes that ARRF sent a press release calling your article irresponsible instead of thanking you for being on top of the pitiful situation that the dolphins are in (your pictures show the date they were taken.)They should all resign from AARF immediately. The release shows a TOTAL lack of judgement.

  21. Justice Mitchell
    Keep up your grand work. Your dolphin expose is just one example of how you bring to light - for discussion and edification and action - a number of issues that need to be addressed. You do much good for Anguilla.

  22. Did anyone see Saturday's Daily Herald? There was an article in the paper that said that a vet and AARF visited and found the dolphins in good condition.
    what is that all about? who was this vet and what does AARF know about dolphins?
    can we see some new pictures maybe? maybe they did clean it up since Don't original pictures were taken?
    I don't care if it is clean or not, those animals have basically been abandoned and something should be done about it

  23. And who paid for the fencing of Amy Williams' new rental property in North Hill...wasn't it AARF ??sound like misuse of funds to me....I won't be supporting them any more after hearing about this and their recent comments on the dolphin's plight...call themselves animal lovers ???

  24. Not that is is ANY of your business...No, AARF did not fund Amy's fence.

    The real issue here is the pollution of Anguilla's sea and short sightedness of the Planning Board and the Government.

    Let's not turn this into a witch hunt. We know who the real villians are.

  25. The four dolphins were moved at noon-ish on Thursday December 20th. They were put into slings with foam underneath them and ice surrounding them and there was a water tank on the truck to pour water over them during transport to airport. They flew to Tortola. There were 3 vets present. (I wonder if Pat was one?)

    There are two adult dolphins only in the big tanks. The ones in the photos. There are also 2 baby dolphins here. They were left in the far Western tanks.

  26. I don't know of one permit in the Caribbean to display captive dolphins that has been turned down because of animal welfare concerns. This purely an environmental issue. It is the only way to change the outcome. Nothing else will.

  27. Maybe I'm missing something but to me, getting a dolphin or a dog or an elephant into Anguilla is simply a matter of providing a health certificate to the government veterinarian and having him sign off on the permission.

  28. My guess is that the reason they left four behind is because it is THAT MUCH HARDER TO GET THEM BACK IN.. At least here in Antigua that is what they discovered.... They had to apply all over again, whereas if they already had some here it would have been easier to just add more dolphins... In the case of Antigua, our government never granted them permission to bring them back (of course, we had a big battle to keep the second permission from being issued also).

    So, that is why I think they left four behind.

  29. Not sure I understand the issue. It does not matter how many dolphins, if any at all, are presently in the tank. The consensus is that four have been temporarily transferred to Tortola. The enduring issues are whether these people really have the ability to protect the users of the beach from disease and the dolphins from trauma from being housed in the sea next to a busy port.

    No doubt, the authorities have now told DD to lie low and to clear out some of the animals until the heat dies down. When the licences are granted in late January [my guess], the dolphins will all return with the blessings of everyone in the Department of the Environment and the local vet. Unless a sustained campaign of public protest has successfully been raised. First, you have to get Anguillians interested in their health considerations. Good luck!

  30. I'm sorry, but no one who's been reading this blog all these months could think that the average person in Anguilla cares about the environment. And most people believe the ocean has an unlimited capacity to carry away dolphin shit, human shit, black slime, beer bottles, old tyres and ashes of the deceased.

    I continue to believe that beach access and privatisation of the beach is the most relevant issue. But people will mostly prefer that Hubert makes noise so they don't have to do anything themselves.

    Hubert has already voiced his opposition to locating the facility at Blowing Point. Although he is never adverse to repeating himself, I don't know how to turn him on.

    Hubert is "honest." That means he can't be bought with money. He can only be bought with sex or power. And I have neither to spare.

  31. The AARF response to Mr. Mitchell's, and, incidentally, The Anguillian newspaper's, articles of the horrid conditions which exist at the Dolphin Guantanamo, compells you to ask who constitute the AARF.

    If these are the same people you see at AARF functions, you know that they are, in the main, immigrants, and as such, are on a campaign to insinuate themselves into "positions of influence " in Anguilla.

    There is nothing wrong with Mr. Mitchell's article. In fact it was a very necessary and good article which has obviously caused some hurried action by the Dolphin Captors. To suggest that Mr. Mitchell is some how playing to a piper on this issue is desingenuous.

    In the first place, the dolphins should have been removed from their present location since September. that they were left there and kept in the conditions which both Mr. Mitchell and The Anguillian Newspaper exposed, speaks to the mentality of the persons who own the prisoner-mamals.

    Note to the public; the dolphins are valued at US$ 800,000.00 each.

    AARF must mean " Association of American Retired Friends".

    Expose them some more Mr. Mitchell.

  32. Thanks to the poster who named the AARF executives. Apart from Kimberly Fleming, they are all immigrants to Anguilla from the U.S or U.K. talk about Agenda!! Ha!!

  33. The opening statement said, "Those in Anguilla who do not understand what all this fuss is over a bunch of fish must be laughing." They are laughing, because the Dolphins in question are mammals, not Mahi Mahi.

    Nit picking aside, why aren't we more concerned with the crime that IS wrecking the tourist industry and finding the solution to getting young Anguillians on the right path ?

    If 'born here' Anguillians don't like the way AARF is being run, join up and fix it. Then vote the "
    immigrants" out. The immigrants are spending their time because no one else will. No, I am not an AARF immigrant, just one of those annoying Come Heres'.

  34. I do not understand why most issues, sooner or later, get around to "where someone comes from." Shouldn't people be judged on their actions? not their ancestry? Seems like just another excuse for not taking action to address the real problems.

    Is it because people don't really know how to solve the problem? It seems complicated. Should an independent EIS be conducted by agreed-upon experts? maybe commissioned by concerned citizens?

  35. I'm getting tired of seeing almost everyone on Don's blog log in as 'anonymous'. I sign my name and invite anyone who wants to weigh in on the information below to do likewise.

    Apropos the dolphin-o-philes and phobes and what's-the-fussers.

    Many people know that a dolphin’s brain to body mass ratio is a pretty close to that of a human's.

    Most people who had kids and a T.V. set in the 70's and 80's have heard of Flipper.

    Very few people know that Flipper committed suicide years after being retired shortly after a visit by her former trainer. There were several Flippers, most of them female. They needed a male for the tail-walk. The trainer's account tugs at your heartstrings. I invite Don's dolphin posters, philes and phobes alike, to go to wikipedia, Flipper, Ric O'Barry.


    “Richard O'Barry has worked both sides of the dolphin street, the first 10 years with the dolphin captivity industry, the past 30 against them.

    Working back in the 1960s for Miami Seaquarium, O'Barry captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. When Cathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

    From that moment on, O'Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he founded the Dolphin Project dedicated to freeing captive dolphins who were viable candidates and educating people throughout the world to the plight of dolphins in captivity. Over the years he freed 14 dolphins. He launched a searing campaign against the billion dollar dolphin captivity industry, telling the public what was really going on at dolphin shows and urging people not to buy tickets to see dolphins play the fool.

    O’Barry’s 40 years of experience with dolphins and his firsthand knowledge about the methods used to capture and train them has taken him all over the world to participate in lectures and conferences about the controversial dolphin captivity issue.”

    Submitted by Warwick Butler

  36. This is a sad state of affairs. I am a supporter of many animal organizations and I am very sad to see one of these organizations behaving in such a way. If this issue truly is not their domain, they should have looked into what they COULD do, not what they didn't feel like doing. It's very sad. The only ones that are going to suffer are the animals they supposedly care about when the donations slow down because of this mess.

  37. The government has given permission to DD to move their construction materials from Sandy Ground to Sandy Point.

    Planning approved the proposal for the pens in the sea.

    DD will receive a letter to that effect from the Govt this afternoon.

    Permission has not been granted for the 3/4 acre of land. This will be discussed at the next ExCo meeting.

    Seven acres was earmarked for a national park, 3 acres of which is beachfront. DD's 3/4 acre includes 100 yards of beachfront.

    Prior to ExCo on Thursday there is still time for the people to voice their opinion at the CM's office.

    It is rumoured Hubert Hughes has changed his mind again and is now in favour of DD at Sandy Point.


    I got it from a good source that the Ministers did not approve the relocation of the Dolphin Circus to Blowing Point on Thursday. They agreed to allow the owner to “mobilize”. They are allowing more time for members of the public to make their view known. Final approval has been put back. No public announcement will be made. We still have time to save Sandy Point for us. What a shame if we allow this nastiness to go on at the best picnic spot in Anguilla.

  39. This "nastiness" as you put it so well will only go on if the people of Anguilla allow it. This issue is about the environment and protecting it for future generations. Yeah, that's a boring topic but people have to get past thinking only about the dollars in their pocket today. The tourists will stop coming to Anguilla if we ruin it and then there will be nothing left. No income and no Anguilla as we know and loved. Our children won't have a nice beach left to play freely on. Instead, every time we want to do something we'll be paying money to take them to an artificial playground or asking permission to enter a beach.

  40. The dolphins on Anguilla have found a friend. Hopefully this will make the government take some public accountability for them:

    Chief Minister
    Osbourne Fleming
    c/o Permanent Secretary
    Merwyn Rogers
    Chief Ministers Office
    PO BOX 60, The valley
    British West Indies

    21 January 2008

    Dear Honorable Minister Fleming

    I am writing on behalf of WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society to express our grave concerns at reports of the conditions in which the captive bottlenose dolphins owned by Dolphin Discovery are languishing in Anguilla. Reports suggest that due to the closure of the Meads Bay facility and the failure of Dolphin Discovery to secure a new facility for the dolphins, the current facility has fallen into disrepair with little or no staff available to look after the dolphins.

    WDCS is an international charity and now has more than 80,000 members and supporters. WDCS is dedicated to the conservation and welfare of all whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans), and is at the forefront of efforts to provide a secure future for these highly intelligent and sentient mammals. We have funded research into the captivity debate over the past decade and we are an internationally-respected resource on this issue.

    It has been reported to us that conditions at the current facility in Meads Bay are very poor. We are extremely concerned about the welfare of the dolphins kept there. Reports include lack of water filtration; excessive algal growth and ‘scum’ on the surface of the water; as well as the lack of adequate staff to look after and take care of the day-to-day needs of the animals as well as any emergencies that may arise. As reports about the number of dolphins being held at Meads Bay fluctuate, we are also very concerned that some of the dolphins held by Dolphin Discovery in Anguilla may have died.

    We believe that there are currently seven dolphins being held in the Meads Bay facility, all of which have been imported from Cuba. I would be very grateful if you could confirm the following:

    • The current number of dolphins held at Meads Bay and their current status of health and wellbeing;
    • If a recent export of any of the dolphins held in Anguilla has occurred to a facility on Tortola;
    • If an adequate number of staff have been retained to provide for the health and welfare of the dolphins at Meads Bay.

    We believe that the dolphins are being held in violation of Anguilla’s Animal Welfare Act (1977) which states that prosecution will occur if, according to 2. (1) “any person …(a) shall… cause any unnecessary suffering, or, being the owner, permit any unnecessary suffering to be so caused to any animal” and (2) “For the purposes of this section, an owner shall be deemed to have permitted cruelty if he shall have failed to exercise reasonable care and supervision in respect of the protection of the animal therefrom, …” and encourage the authorities in Anguilla to seriously consider the repatriation of the dolphins to their country of origin - which we believe to be Cuba - for rehabilitation and release back into the wild.

    We believe that these bottlenose dolphins may be suffering unnecessarily and respectfully request that the Anguilla Government take immediate action to remedy the situation. If you would like any further help or advice please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Yours sincerely

    Laura Stansfield
    Captivity and Rescue Officer
    WDCS, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
    Email: laura.stansfield@wdcs.org


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