When the Watchdog Is Just a Guard Dog
The trade association for the dolphin entertainment industry looks after its own
A New Beginning for Dolphins
Part Three of “Dolphins and Us”
A New Beginning for Dolphins
Could Tilikum Also Be Set Free?
Making the Case
Is SeaWorld on the Ropes?
In the World Spotlight
SeaWorld Testifies before Congress
How You Can Help
Interviews & Reports
The Case for Dolphin Rights
When the Watchdog is Just a Guard Dog
Communion in the Wild
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) states its mission as being “to guide, encourage and support the zoos, aquariums, and like-minded organizations of the world in animal care and welfare, environmental education and global conservation.”
It also presents itself as the ethical watchdog over these businesses. But when animal protection groups attempt to participate at WAZA conventions and other international meetings, and speak on behalf of the plight of the animals, they are literally strong-armed out of the convention hall.
(You can watch this happen in a scene in the movie The Covewhen Ric O’Barry walks through a meeting of the International Whaling Commission and attempts to show attendees a hand-held video of a dolphin massacre at Taiji. You’ll see the delegates fleeing from the camera like vampires from sunlight!)
Here’s an excerpt from the newsletter of the association. While claiming to protect dolphins in the wild, WAZA in fact simply suggests different ways of “herding” and “acquiring” them. Note also that the dolphins are referred to as “livestock.”
“There has been strong liaison between myself, WAZA Council, Committees and other stakeholder regarding concerns on ethical and welfare issues, notably including the issue of acquisition of livestock for aquariums through dolphin drive fisheries.
“In July 2009, Gerald Dick, Chris West (Chair, Ethics & Welfare Committee), and I traveled to Tokyo in order to discuss aspects of dolphin welfare and conservation with the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums and others. We felt that we made real progress in discussions with our Japanese colleagues with regard to a commitment to begin a separate, gentler ‘herding exercise’ as a means of acquisition of wild dolphins for aquariums. This stands in contrast to the controversial drive fisheries currently used for acquisition.”
Courtney Vail (photo right) is the campaigns officer of the The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Asked about WAZA’s policy, she said, “It will only serve to add more pressure to the dolphin populations around Japan, and will merely be another source of dolphins in addition to the drives in Taiji. It will do nothing to diminish the kills in Taiji, and does nothing to address the demand from foreign facilities who will continue to source from these hunts.”
National groups like the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums are members of WAZA in good standing, and so, since they support the dolphin drive hunts, the World Association is implicated in all these massacres.