Jane Goodall urges Flemish animal welfare minister to ban captive dolphins

World-renowned biologist Jane Goodall calls on Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts to halt the keeping and breeding of dolphins in captivity. She does so in a video by the animal rights organisation GAIA.

"For many years, I have been speaking out against the keeping and breeding of dolphins in captivity. Dolphins are highly intelligent mammals that lead amazingly complex lives. We cannot possibly meet their welfare requirements in captive tanks, and visitors will learn nothing of their true nature," the biologist stressed in the video that went online earlier this week.

Her words were aimed at the Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges, which currently houses eight bottlenose dolphins in a basin 37 metres long and 13 metres wide. In 2019, animal welfare minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) called for the phasing out of captive dolphins. Yet three years later, little has changed.

"We have already been able to take many steps regarding animal welfare," the minister responded. "For that, you also have to face a lot of resistance. That takes time, which is no different in this particular case."

While waiting for a concrete approach in Flanders, the Brussels Capital Region has banned keeping cetaceans or sea lions since April 4 2019. This was a striking measure since there is no dolphinarium in any of the Brussels municipalities, and there are no plans to open one either. "With this symbolic action, we especially hope to convince the other regions and neighbouring countries, where there are dolphinariums, to take the same measure," Brussels animal welfare minister Bernard Clerfayt (DéFi) said at the time.

EU Directive

Although several legislations within the EU protect wild whales and dolphins, only the EU directive on zoos (EC Directive 1999/22) provides whales and dolphins in captivity with any form of protection. Dolphinariums in EU countries must meet specific conservation and education requirements and keep the animals in conditions that meet their natural biological needs, which according to Goodall is an impossible job.

Currently, there are 15 EU member states where dolphins live in captivity. EU countries without dolphinariums are Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

While Jane Goodall speaks up for dolphins, the British anthropologist and biologist is best known for her 60-year study of chimpanzee social and family life. She studied the animals from 1960 at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. She is also the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute in Brussels.



#FlandersNewsService | October 12, 2022, College Park, Maryland, U.S: Dr. Jane Goodall, giving a talk ''Inspiring Hope Through Action'' in Memorial Chapel at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.

© Evan Golub/ZUMA Press Wire


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