STOP the plan to build a dolphinarium in Burgas

The municipality wants to build a new dolphinarium in Burgas
The Municipality of Burgas in Bulgaria has submitted to the MoEW a proposal for the construction of a marine park with a dolphinarium, sealarium, an area for penguins and enclosures for other exotic and farm animals in Ezero Park.

We believe that no animal should be held captive and forced to perform unnatural behaviors for entertainment.

Live in captivity is short and cruel

For marine mammals, it’s hell. In the dolphinarium, animals do not have the freedom to express natural behavior, which is a guiding principle in animal welfare. Isolation, separation from loved ones, noisy performances, training sessions and invasive attractions such as “swimming with dolphins” are a source of constant stress for the animals. They often suffer from depression or go insane and die prematurely. Mortality among captive dolphins is significantly higher than among wild dolphins, despite all the challenges of survival in the ocean. Captive birth rates are very low and babies who survive are rare.

Threat to the survival of wild populations

Due to high mortality and low breeding success, the captive dolphin population maintain itself on its own. It is necessary to import other – newly wild-caught dolphins, which often happens illegally. The systematic capture of individuals from the same populations to supply the dolphinarium industry poses a threat to the survival of wild populations.

Anti-educational and harmful to the young audience

Performances showing how wild animals perform unnatural tricks and behaviors that are never observed in the wild create a misconception about animals among the young audience. They teach children that animals have no right to choose their way of life, and demonstrate that the total breaking of their will for the sole purpose of entertaining the audience is acceptable and fun. A number of studies on the effect of such attractions on visitors show that they have no educational value, but quite the opposite: The average zoo visitor’s concern about animals and interest in the biology and ecology decreases after a visit to a zoo. In their place arises a sense of superiority and dominance of man over other living beings, as well as a negative attitude towards animals (such as avoidance, hostility or indifference).

Health and safety risks

The behavior shown during performances and attractions (photos and “kisses” with animals, swimming with dolphins and programs for so-called dolphin therapy) is completely unnatural for wild animals. These attractions pose a significant risk to public safety:

Infections and injuries

Direct contact between the public and animals always poses a significant risk to the health and safety of both parties. Dolphins are large and strong animals, and no matter how well trained they are, they can become unpredictable in situations of severe stress. Numerous incidents have been reported, often involving children who have suffered injuries, bites, and broken bones. There are also several cases of trainers killed by animals. . For this reason, in Italy contact between cetaceans and the public is prohibited by law.

Risk of spreading infections and zoonotic diseases

Direct contact with the animals carries a significant risk of disease transmission and the spread of viral infections. It is known that dolphins can carry viruses, bacteria and parasites that can be transmitted to humans and cause disease in humans, and vice versa..

Currently, the whole world is trying to keep safe and changing drastically to limit the spread of COVID-19, which is transmitted by airborn droplets. In this situation, which no one can yet say how long will last, we consider it is completely absurd for a public institution to plan a program that involves a large number of visitors – most of whom will be tourists from all around the world – entering the same water as wild animals. This is in complete contradiction with all the recommendations around the global epidemiological crisis, on a global scale.

We would like the remind those institutions that recently, 7 tigers at the New York Zoo tested positive for COVID-19. Experts believe the animals were infected by an asymptomatic zoo employee. Epidemiologists claim they are not surprised that captive wild animals are susceptible to COVID-19 , and the data from this case will be used to study the virus among a wider population of wildlife. This process is only just beginning, and will take time, as any animal test requires anesthesia. For this reason, scenarios in which the animals are tested routinely for the virus between contact with different visitors are not possible, and we expect programs involving direct contact with animals to be banned worldwide from now on. 

We are outraged that this absurd investment proposal, in complete violation of human moral values, common sense and the laws in Bulgaria was submitted by a public institution in the 21st century. The global trend in this century is to close – not to open new dolphinaria and zoos. Public attitudes against keeping animals in captivity are growing rapidly, with more and more people actively rejecting the use of sensitive animals for entertainment. Dolphinaria are becoming less and less popular and causing public discontent. Today, we need sustainable solutions to conserve biodiversity and save species, not to reproduce already rejected, inhumane practices.

We believe that it would be a shameful and tragic for Bulgaria if this investment proposal is approved by the institutions whose role is to protect animals and the environment.

We insist that all attractions and displays with animals be removed from the investment proposal.