1. Captive Tursiops dolphins
In 1998, five dolphins were living in the large Duisburg delphinarium, respectively named Play-Boy, the dominant male, Pepina his mate (caught in the wild in 1975 and 1980) and their three
children, Duphi, Delphi and Daisy (born in 1988, 1992, 1996)
After the arrival of Iris and Ivo deported from Antwerp Zoo, many dolphin deaths occured in Duisburg :
Duphi died in december 99. Zoo director said : » The death of DUPHI, an 11-year-old male dolphin, could not have been avoided because he suffered an abscess outside the lounge close to the
heart. Due to his bad conditions caused by bacteria, this abscess could not be treated to the end. The actual cause of death was a
Then Play Boy died on his turn and the child of Iris, a still born baby who survived 30 days.
In July 2000, the two females Pepina and Delphy were pregant, fathered by Ivo, who became the King of the tank.
In december 2000, five dolphins were surviving : Ivo, pepina, Daisy, Delphy and…Iris, now placed in an isolation tank, far from the show and the others.
How long will she still live in these conditions ?
We think that 45 dolphins died during the last thirty years at the Duisburg Zoo.
Here is a list of just some of them…
dead in 1969 after 4 captivity years.
dead in 1970 after 5 captivity years
dead in 1979 after 12 captivity years.
dead in 1981 after 14 captivity years.
dead in 1982 after 2 captivity years.
dead in 1984 after 15 captivity years.
dead in 1985 after 1 captivity year.
dead in 1989 after 9 captivity year.
dead in 1989 after 17 captivity.
dead in 1989 after 11 days of life.
dead in 1990 after 69 days of life.
dead in 1991 after 7 captivity years.
dead in 1992 after 12 captivity years.
2. Other captive cetaceans
The most shocking Duisburg Zoo exhibition is certainly the show of Ferdinand, the last beluga and of his friend Yogi, the Commerson dolphin (Jacobita dolphin) gathered in the same minute open-air tank, at some distance of the main delphinarium.
The tank is placed in the open-air, with a canopy in order to protect the water from the sun.
It’s hard to imagine that two beluga’s and two Commerson dolphins were living together in such a little tank during several years.
Lost in the Northern Sea, near the Rhine mouth in 1966, Mobby, the she-beluga,
was caught and brought to the Zoo in 1966. She was the mate of Ferdinand
but unfortunately died two years ago.
Ferdinand was captured during a special expedition organised by the Duisburg Zoo
Inuits and Creek Indians participated to this old style capture
without a net, just riding the whale like in a Western movie !
Yogi is the only survivor of a
huge capture campign led by Dr Gewalt (Duisburg zoo founder) in Patagonia.
Sixty Commerson dolphins died on this occasion.
Now, they are only two : Ferdinand and Yogi. The Duisburg decided to let the little black and white dolphin with the big white whale, in order they do not become slowly insane because of their loneliness.
The show is an old fashioned one : the trainer puts his head into the beluga’s mouth and makes him cry and whistle through the blow-hole for the great pleasure of the children all around the tank. Then the beluga pulls a little boat where four children are sitting. The Commerson dolphin does not perform a lot : he just jumps above a rope.
Some meters further, in the large Aquarium dedicated to fishes, two Amazon river dolphins (toninas) are slowly turning around each other, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, in a dark and dirty iron tank as large as a lumber-room. No show for them, no occupation.
Maybe it could be time, for the large pro-cetaceans organisations, to be moved by the Duisburg zoo situation.
We know that enclosing two different species in a same cage is not allowed and generally not practised by zoos.
You never see lions with wild cats, monkeys with apes or dolphins with orcas.
Normaly, Duisburg Zoo direction ought to release these animals or to search for another place where they will be able to live with individuals of the
same subspecies. Cetaceans don’t put up with loneliness : they need at least a small social group around them and never must be let alone.
That’s one the reason why
Antwerp’s zoo renounces its delphinarium.
We could say the same concerning the two river dolphins : how long will they
tolerate their isolation ?