The poor dolphins at Sentosa
There seems to be some talk about the state of our Dolphin Lagoon in Underwater World Sentosa (UWS) some time back.
I saw the pictures in the news online and was appalled and shocked for quite a long moment.
Actually, appalled is an great understatement. I could not get over it – the state of the place, and how sad the dolphins looked. I would not expect to see the state of our Dolphin Lagoon in this state.
“Surely not in Singapore, right?” I thought to myself. The Singapore where everything must look clean and new?
I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.
Source of pictures: Taken off Asiaone webpage, which were in turn taken from Wildlife Watcher – Singapore, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Facebook screengrabs
I love dolphins. They are the most intelligent and adorable animals in my opinion. It puts a huge smile on my face just picturing them in my mind.
My few chances of “meeting” dolphins so far in my life are as such:
– At Australia Sea World, where I was totally thrilled by the dolphins’ performance. That visit was 2 decades ago, but in my memory, the place was definitely much bigger than our dolphins’ performance pool in UWS.
– Going on a dolphin watching cruise in Australia and waiting for them to swim alongside our ferry.
– Pink dolphin lagoon at UWS about a decade ago.
While I had been to the Pink Dolphin Lagoon about a decade ago, in my memory, it did not look like what was shown in the pictures above. At that time, it looked like a lagoon, a real one, bigger than what’s in these pictures and with real sand. We sat quite a distance on chairs in the sand. Visitors could go up to the pink dolphins and touch them. I know I did. I walked into the water to about my knee level and reached out to touch one of them.
I am not sure if that lagoon still exists, but from pictures and videos found online, the dolphins definitely do not perform at the “lagoon” anymore.
I did not know that apparently, at that time, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) had already been appealing to Underwater World Singapore (UWS), to free six pink dolphins, because they were caught in the wild, not bred in captivity as stated (source). To be honest, at that time, I was not too concerned about whether the animals were in captivity or not. I was just happy to be able to get close to them and touch them, and that was the one and only time I did.
Even before Dolphin Island opened, dolphins have died before they were transported to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).
Wait, if you are getting a bit confused about UWS and RWS, here is some help.
Even though Sentosa is a tiny island, there are UWS and RWS. Dolphin Lagoon with the pink dolphins, is run by UWS. Dolphin Island with the dark grey Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins, is run by RWS. Both are and have been flamed for ill-treatment of dolphins.
When I knew about the dolphins’ deaths, I made a mental note to myself never to visit (and I still have not visited till today). I am no marine expert, but personally, the place looks too small for more than 20 dolphins. Oh ya, pictures and videos on TV may not give a true representation of the actual place, but I am still not going. We all know Singapore is a small place and Sentosa, an even smaller place. Do you think we can afford to give these dolphins the luxury of space?
This year, a fourth dolphin has died. News about the dolphins dying give me zero confidence that the dolphins were kept in optimal captivity conditions.
I have not reached the stage where I am totally against captivity of wild animals. Well, I still visit the zoo and think we have a very nice zoo (though I wouldn’t say the same about our newer attractions e.g River Safari). However, I do draw the line when I feel the animals are not treated well, not even with basic living conditions e.g. the state of Dolphin Lagoon.
2) Google. Everybody’s best friend.
Sidetrack a little.
I have never ridden on elephants nor visit any elephant shows while in Thailand, and have no intention to do so. I watched a documentary on how elephants were badly treated and tortured while trained to perform for tourists in Thailand, mainly to paint.
That documentary will make you cry if you could see how the elephants were crying with agony and how much they were being punished because they could not do things they were not supposed to be designed to do. The treatment, to me, was no better than how POWs were tortured in the previous world wars. All the while, just for human beings to call them “geniuses” for being able to paint?