The Mayor of the Bulgarian seaside town of Burgas has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Waters for the construction of a new marine park with a dolphinarium, sealarium, an area for penguins and enclosures for other exotic and farm animals in the Ezero Park.
We are extremely concerned that the facilities planned for marine mammals are completely unsuitable, do not meet the biological needs of the animals and are contrary to moral human values and to a number of existing laws and directives for the protection of animals, including the EU Zoo Directive 1999/22 and several articles of the Bulgarian Animal Protection Law.
A growing number of european animal rights organizations have started expressing their disagreement in letters to the Minister of the Environment and Mayor of Burgas, asking for animals to be removed from the project: Dolphin Project & Empty The Tanks, Marine Connection, One Voice, C’est Assez, ProWal. It is a matter of great concern that the Head of the Burgas Regional MoEW office, Tonka Atanasova has declared that all statements from NGOs will be ignored at this stage.
Dolphins suffer immensely from life in captivity. They never adapt to the small tanks, the separation from loved ones, the invasive performances and the filthy water. The artificial conditions provided by dolphinaria do not meet the needs of the animals that are sentenced to be imprisoned there for life – they only meet the needs of the business and the pursuit of profit.
Due to the unsuitable conditions, the mortality rate of captive dolphins is significantly higher than wild dolphins, despite all the challenges of life on the high seas. Premature death, including among newborns in captivity, results in the captive dolphin population not being self-sustaining. Maintaining captive populations requires the import of wild-caught dolphins, this is why the dolphinarium industry poses a threat to wild populations and is completely incompatible with the protection of species and biodiversity.
Research shows that cruel attractions are also harmful to humans, especially to the young audience. They teach children that animals have no right to freedom. The submission of wild animals for entertainment is presented as innocent fun. This creates a negative attitude towards animals, which perpetuates a culture of inhumane treatment of animals.
Facilities keeping wild mammals in captivity also carry serious risks for the health of the visitors, especially when they offer direct contact between the visitors and the animals, as provided by the proposal of the Municipality of Burgas. Dolphins significantly pollute the water in the pools, and the tank in which the visitors swim is in fact a large toilet bowl for sea mammals. It is known that dolphins can transmit viruses, bacteria and parasites that can be passed on to humans, and vice versa.
We are outraged that this absurd investment proposal, in complete violation of human moral values, common sense and law, was submitted by a public institution in the 21st century. The global trend today is for closing, not for opening new dolphinaria and zoos. Public disapproval of keeping animals in captivity is rapidly growing, and more and more people are actively rejecting the use of sensitive animals for entertainment. A new dolphinarium would show a blatant breach of all civilized animal welfare standards, and will repel an important part of the tourists from Burgas.
Bulgaria is one of the countries with seemingly high legal standards regarding animal welfare, however the authorities have been ignoring these laws for too long, and the result is that animal welfare indicators in captive facilities in Bulgaria are shockingly below the legal requirements. The only existing dolphinarium in Varna keeps animals illegally, more than half of the zoos in Bulgaria have been operating without a license and without any legal problems for years. The conditions of the animals in these facilities are appalling. Animals left to starve to death before being fed to other animals, a lion limping for months because the authorities refuse to make the zoo provide adequate medical attention and newborn cubs left to freeze to death in their cages are common occurrences. In this reality, it is unacceptable to plan for new captive animal facilities, it is time to close the existing ones.
Today, we need sustainable solutions to conserve biodiversity and save species, not to reproduce already rejected, inhumane practices.
The petition to remove all animals from Burgas’ investment proposal has collected over 6000 signatures.
If you would like to support our cause, please publish a link to the petition.
The Last Cage Team