Captive Dolphin Shows Still Happen In NSW And Bob Carr Is Leading A Push To Stop It With Legislation

05/05/2016 7:28 AM AEST | Updated 28/09/2016 9:59 PM AEST
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Leeward Dutch Antilles, Curacao, Portrait of Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus,

In 1986, when then-NSW MP Bob Carr introduced legislation banning the capture and display of wild dolphins, he thought it would be the end of 'dolphinariums'.

Today, 30 years later, he is joining Greens member Mehreen Faruqi, Animal Justice Party member Mark Pearson and advocacy group Australia For Dolphins to try to close a "quirk in the law" that allows captive dolphin shows to continue.

Carr told The Huffington Post Australia he wanted to see legislation introduced that would ban dolphin shows in NSW and that unlike in the 1980s, the public was with him this time.

"It was a pretty lonely decision back in the 1980s," Carr said.

"Public consciousness on animal cruelty wasn’t as strongly developed as today and people were nervous about closing dolphinariums but I was persuaded by the arguments and I put those arguments to political colleagues."

At the time there were three dolphinariums in NSW.

"They closed and I expected they’d stay closed but we are now aware of this quirk in the law that allows them to continue."

Carr said it was cruel to keep a dolphin in captivity but currently, it was legal for licensed premises to breed dolphins.

"We're just starting to learn about the cognitive abilities of these magnificent creatures," Carr said.

"Physically they’re profoundly impressive -- the distances they can dive, the distances they can swim -- they’re very sociable animals and they’re very friendly to human kind."

bottlenose dolphins

Advocacy group Australia for Dolphins chief executive Sarah Lucas told HuffPost Australia there was one remaining dolphin park in NSW.

"I think the point of introducing the bill isn’t to be pointed towards a particular facility, it's about stopping a practice which we know is cruel," Lucas said.

"We know dolphins die younger in captivity and we know that dolphins use echo-location as their primary sense, so a hard pool surface causes the echolocation to bounce back and effectively blinds them.

"In terms of the particular park in NSW, we think that there’s a way that it can be evolved so it doesn’t keep dolphins in captivity but still be a great tourism facility."

Lucas said Australia for Dolphins had a long term plan of creating a netted ocean pool for the remaining dolphins to live out their 'retirement' based on similar enclosures around the world.

"First, we need to get this legislation passed. Right now it's about announcing support for a bill. In the next few months there'll be a formal drafting process and the next step is to schedule debate in parliament."

Celebrities supporting the campaign to have NSW ban dolphins in captivity

Ricky Gervais

"Dolphins are amazing animals deserving of our respect. The UK has phased out dolphin captivity -- Australia, please do the same."

ricky gervais

Dame Jane Goodall

“Cetaceans are highly intelligent and very social animals with complex communication patterns who often travel in large pods over long distances.

"In captivity they are forced to live in a low-sensory environment, which is clearly unable to fully meet their physical and emotional needs.

"Scientific research makes it clear that dolphins suffer greatly in captivity and I urge Australia to abolish its two remaining dolphinaria.”

Tim Winton

“It turns my stomach to see cetaceans of any kind confined for commercial entertainment. Such a practice has no place in a civilised society.

"There’s no excuse for it to continue, no ethical defence, no scientific or education purpose to justify it. So let’s put an end to dolphin captivity in this country forever.”

Xavier Rudd

xavier rudd

"A lot of kids these days are pretty well informed and keen to learn where we went wrong. It’s often kids educating their parents on things like the ludicrous idea of keeping cetaceans in confinement.

"Unfortunately we seem to procrastinate far too long on shifting mistakes of the past. This is a blatantly obvious one, let's show the young hearts some effort and get it done straight away!"

NSW's last-remaining dolphin park, Dolphin Marine Magic, was contacted by The Huffington Post Australia but declined to comment.

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