November 14th 1998 First Anti-captivity Conference in Brussels
Life and Economy : The Dolphinaria Question
A SHORT REPORT
The November 14th 1998 First Anti-captivity Conference in Brussels entitled as
« Life and
Economy : the Dolphinaria Question » and organized by
and Delphus associations was a big success :
450 concerned people were present, Press was there, and the discussion with the audience was
prolonged until midnight !
After an introduction said by a young child eager to testify in dolphin freedom favor and
telling how she preferred to see dolphins in the wild, two films were displayed :
– The first movie showed us a strong and striking denunciation of Antibes Marineland
Dolphinarium (France) where some dolphins and orcas are hardly surviving.
Today, Marineland instituted a legal proceedings against Mr. Sidois, the author of the film and claims
now for 6 millions of French francs.
We understand Marineland’s fear : pictures of this Cetacean Gulag were really AWFUL…
– The second movie (an American TV reporting) showed us how Ric O’Barry was working all
over the world in order to rescue captive dolphins.
Just after these projections, the Conference stimulator persons,
Dr Yvan Beck, veterinarian, President of Planet Vie-RNS and M. Philippe Soreil, Belgian TV journalist specialized in animal movies, introduced
M. Ric O’Barry, to the large audience.
Everybody knew Ric alerady for long because « Un Monde Bleu », a French TV production showing
the succeeded rescuing of Colombian she-dolphin Stephania, was precisely broadcast in November and December TWO TIMES a week on the Belgian State television channel …during six weeks !
Projecting some slices, Ric explained all the rehabilitation process and difficulties and
declared Iris and Ivo could surely be brought away to another « healthier place he knew ».
« They are too pale and unhealthy, he said, they suffer skin diseases because they didn’t see the
sun for 18 years ! What they need now is sea-water and living fish.
Sending them to Duisburg
Zoo is not a solution : seen from dolphin’s point of view, it’s just a concrete tank after another
one ! »
Ric also explainend his projects and announced that he was awaiting Iris and Ivo in his Dolphin Embassy, somewhere in the « tropical seas », where they will be able to take a well deserved rest !
After Ric’s intervention, a debate with the audience began. The « specialists » ready to answer the questions were :
* Mr Philippe Soreil, a well-known and popular Belgian TV journalist specialized in animal movies, who was the stimulator person.
* Dr Yvan Beck, veterinarian, President of
and Advisory Director in Belgium for the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Yvan was the main organizer of this Conference.
* As a representative of
Animal Protection and Agriculture Ministry responsible of the Zoos management, Mr. Dochy tried to explain the Government point of view, i.e. :
dolphinaria are necessary, because people must see real dolphins and not only movies (???).
Uproar in the audience but nevertheless, let’s warmly congratulate him for having come.
Less courageous, M.Fréderic Daman (Antwerp Zoo) and Bruges Dolphinarium responsible persons
were invited FIVE TIMES by letters.
They didn’t even ANSWER.
* Maître Guy Adant, legal expert, explained us the essential consequences for the Dolphinaria
of the August 14.1986 Belgian Law on Animal Protection, alongside with the new European
Community Zoo Decision, recently ratified by Belgian Federal Government.
This law says « ecological and physiological » needs of the captive animals must be satisfied. « We shall use this law in order to ban definitely all Dolphinaria in Belgium, he said,
and above all, in whole
* M. Sidois, President of
SOS Grand Bleu
who works hard in France for making dolphin captivity banned.
M. Sidois explained how he succeeded to ban Port Saint Père Dolphinarium near Nantes (France).
He also brought the essential support of a skilled and powerful French activist organization.
* Dr Gérard Lippert, veterinarian and ocean life specialist, President of Delphus Association.
Dr Lippert is very concerned by the scientific convergences between captive dolphin’s dumbness and child autism.
Dr Gérard Lippert described all the diseases a dolphin may suffer in captivity.
He stressed on the Dolphinaria bad quality water but also on noises problem : dolphins must stay silent all day long and stop using their sonar, so their brain become almost empty : it’s just like child autism.
* M.Gauthier Chapelle, marine biologist, President of French-Belgian
association, explained how intelligent and respectful whale-watching could be cheaper and more numerous, and how it could easily replace Dolphinaria even in Europe (did you know we’ve got some native dolphins in Belgium, in the North Sea ?)
* Mr Michel Atlas , from Human Dolphin Institute explained the pedagogic action of his « free-dolphins encountering study center » in Panama City Beach (Florida) and translated Ric’s speech during the conference.
* M.Yvon Godefroid, journalist, responsible of the
Collectif pour les Dauphins Libres
and C.F.N correspondent explained how the extraordinary dolphin cognitive abilities, language, social life and sensitiveness must be now be taken in consideration by Zoo and official scientists :
dolphin captivity is just an old worn-out idea which must disappear, like tauromachy or dog fighting. Time is come now for cooperation with dolphins in the wild, no
more for constraint.
IMPORTANT DECISIONS FOR 98-99 TAKEN DURING THE CONFERENCE
1. ASSOCIATIVE ACTION LEVEL
* An « online anti-captivity petition » is placed on
* All Belgian organizations (Cetus, Delphus, Planet Vie, Collectif, and…even, at last, GAIA)
are gathering now for just ONE purpose : taking Iris and Ivo out of their tank, bringing them
to a healthier place and preventing them to be sent to Germany.
* German associations are being contacted. Letters to German Embassy, German Environment
Minister, Duisburg Zoo director are now being sent, written in German !
German Rock band Kid Moses is preparing a huge German « growing public awareness » Campaign with the same purpose.
2. SCIENTIFIC ACTION LEVEL
– A large international call to all cetacean and ethological scientists of the world was
officially launched by Dr Yvan Beck.
The aim is to realize a common Manifesto bringing the scientific and ethical evidences of dolphin captivity’s damages and claiming for its complete prohibition.
3. PUBLIC AND PRESS ACTION LEVEL
* Before and after this important conference, a huge Sensibilisation Campaign will be broadcast everywhere in Belgium both in French and Flemish by the popular commercial Radio Contact whose logo is a blue dolphin.
This Radio will also create an International Iris and Ivo Raising Fund Foundation in order to finance Iris et Ivo’s return in their tropical seas.
This huge « Save Iris-Ivo Campaign » is now broadcast by the Radio.
A « Save Iris and Ivo » Special Daily Minute already began : each day, journalist
Philippe Soreil tells a nice and striking anecdote about dolphin intelligence, social life or
solidarity, ending his speech with a call for International Iris and Ivo Raising Fund in order to
finance Iris et Ivo’s return in their tropical sea.
* Iris and Ivo Raising Fund :
BBL 310- 4884698-58
The money will be given to the Zoo for all the dolphin journey expenses.
4. LEGAL ACTION LEVEL
Even if the Antwerps dolphins problem could easily be solved in a happy way -and we hope it will be – lets remind that there is another dolphinarium in Belgium.
Bruges, despite a large number of stillborns and captive dolphins deaths, they still keep going with intensive dolphin artificial breeding, at the same time dolphins are still obliged to perform stupid musical shows alongside with sea-lions
Henceforth, the new European Community Zoo Decision, recently ratified by Belgian Federal Government, will oblige Zoo keepers and animal parks managers to have regard for two constraints :
1. To offer a real pedagogical service, i.e. to teach « real nature » and not to display shows to their visitors.
2. To offer to their animals minimal receiving conditions which satisfy their main ecological and psychological needs.
In the case of dolphinariums, it’s obvious that no one of this two constraint is respected.
Thats why all the organizations concerned by Iris and Ivo Campaign will also claim for this Laws concrete and strict applying, until they get satisfaction.
Within the following months, they intend to obtain complete prohibition of all forms of cetacean captivity in Belgium.
* Lastly and owing to the fact Cetaceans are endowed with stupendous cerebral encephalization rate, cognitive abilities, social life and self-awareness roughly equivalent to the Human ones, a special team of lawyers will work on the question of dolphin as a
Civil Rights subject, legally considered as a person and no more as a personal estate.
Great Ape Project
opens the way with its « Equality beyond Humanity » concept but we could go much further.
In the meanwhile, same lawyers are planning to institute legal proceedings against Antwerps Zoo and Bruges dolphinarium for heavy mistreatings on dolphin individual entities.
Save Iris and Ivo 1999 Campaign conducted by
Cetacean Freedom Network – Cetus – Delphus – Planète Vie RNS- GAIA
With the support of
Radio Contact, Bristol Hôtels and Virgin Airlines