Iris in complete isolation

January 2001 

Iris in complete isolation

Situation getting worse day by day in the Duisburg’s Zoo Delphinarium 

Copyright Udo & Renate.
Only four dolphins left. They were seven last

Despite of the fact that Duisburg Zoo’s Direction is not used to give any reliable information about its tursiops dolphins, uninterrupted observation of shows’ evolution over a long period allows us to easily consider physical and psychic health of these unhappy captive cetaceans. One will remember that at the time of our last visit in July 2000, dolphins already seemed inattentive and tired. 
The two babies of Pepina and Delphy would die some time afterwards, Iris had just lost her own new-born and the memory of poor old Play Boy (25 years) and of Duphy, his son, both deceased a few months earlier, were still floated in the pool… Today,
Marion Ulbert, a sympathetic German dolphin-activist, helped by her two
friends Renate and Udo, inform us that the situation is getting worse for Iris… 


Big thanks to Marion, Renate and Udo.

It is confirmed that Iris is still alive but that she’s now placed in total isolation somewhere in a separated pool. 
The other 4 dolphins are allowed to visit her, says Zoo staff, but even then, this situation is not tolerable during a long
time. Everybody knows that staying motionless and all alone without anything to
do or to see could be quickly lethal for a dolphin. 

According to last witnesses’ who saw it alive, « old » Iris (31 years) was slowly moving, in an obviously depressive way. 
She still carried a broad black spot on her back, close to her fin, but new spots appeared on her whole body. Reaction to ozone excess, which is used to purify the water of the basin ? 
Nobody knows. 
When our German correspondents approached the pool’s glass wall, Iris approached in her turn and came to look at them close near during a long time, almost motionless. When you ever saw the sparkling eyes of a free dolphin, Iris’ glance appears to be unfathomably sad… 

Following the Zoo’s public leaflet, Iris is supposed to be « very old and is very tired ». No mention is made of the baby that she’s just lost. She’s said to have chosen herself to withdraw in her little corner and to spend a calm and well deserved retirement calm in this small paradise that is Duisburg… 

As a matter of fact, the Zoo seems to be undoubtedly eager to get rid of this expensive but less productive ancestor : Iris didn’t perform really any show at Duisburg since the day she arrived there, she seems always sad and useless in her little corner pool but she still must eat each day expensive fishes. So the Zoo is announcing little by little her death to come, as it did for Play Boy when he was slowly dying. 
Let us recall once again that in natural environment, a 30 year old female is simply mature and can give birth to children until forty at least. 

From now on, since Iris does not take part any more in the shows, there are only four dolphins left in the « large » main basin. 

At the time of the show, the trainers declares in his microphon that Iris’ baby of Iris was transported towards another delphinarium. Why this lie? 
Does Duisburg Zoo fear to say the truth ? Didn’t the director of the Zoo, Dr. Frese itself, recognized recently that this baby had died after a few living hours ? 

A conversation listened between trainers made it possible to learn how that the dolphins were nourished only twice per day, at the time of the 11 hours shows and 15 hours, in order to oblige them to obey the orders during the shows. 
At the beginning of the show, they only receive small fishes, but larger pieces are given to them when the show is ending. 
This method of constraint doesn’t respect the official European Regulation N° 3626/82 which condemn this
kind of « punishment by hunger ». 

Like we had already noted in July, the trainers staff seems less and less qualified. Duisburg dolphin-trainers are today young awkward people – almost teenagers – who maintain very cold and impersonal relationship with their captive dolphins. This team also appears unable to answer the visitors ‘questions and this attitude goes against the so-called « teaching vocation » of the delphinariums… 

More and more, the dolphins are reluctant to perform the stupid tricks imposed to them. For instance, they often refuse to strike the suspended blue balloon with their caudal. When you think that Iris and Ivo have made the same gestures two or three times a day during more than twenty years, you understand better their attitude…

Ivo et son ballon. Copyright Udo & Renate. décembre 2000.
Ivo’s doing his job, this time….

Traditionally, dolphins conclude the show by splashing water with their tails to the public. According to our observers, it seems that their gestures become frankly aggressive. We also know that Ivo is used to seize a cord in its rostrum and to trail a small red boat where a young child is sitting. This time, at the end of this performance, the little child in question was soaked and obviously shaken at the end of this show. Next time, will it be necessary to fear a real 

Lastly, aggressiveness between the dolphins increases: they seem to attack and to bite each other right in the middle of the show! We didn’t note that fact during our last visit in July. Now, all the dolphins carry deep white scars on their body, as if their skin had undergone the aggression of a rake. Which can be the origin of these traces? Fratricidal combat? Human mistreatments ? We don’t know. 

To say the truth, we do know
few things about what really happens in this Death Basin. What do the Direction in order to prevent concretely Iris’s death ? What will become Daisy, Delphy and Pepina ? Who will be the following dead dolphin ? Will this odious massacre
ever reach an end one day ? 

It would be time for the international community to be moved by the fate of these unhappy captive dolphins but also by the awful situation of the Duisburg’s beluga, Dall porpoise, Inia river dolphins, tigers, big apes and elephants, received in a scandalous way in this small zoo nested in the heart of a polluted industrial town. 

Concernning Iris’ announced death, could we remind one more time that this
dolphin just need stimulation and free open sea. If someone could take her now
and put her in a nice and warm open sea-pen, somewhere in a southern island,
it’s sure that she won’t die so quickly but still could spend some more years
feeling the real sun and the wind on her skin…

It could be so simple. But it won’t happen. 
Delphinaria NEVER release their prisoners… 

Duisburg Zoo…

To know more about Iris’ situation : 

Dr. Frese 
Duisburg Zoo Director 
Mülheimerstrasse 273 
47058 Duisburg 
Such 0049 203/305590 
Fax / 3055922

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