Heavy criticism is being cast upon a dolphinarium after one of its baby dolphins died as a result of being overworked.
The shocking incident occurred earlier this month, during a live performance in the city of Varna on the Bulgarian Black sea, according to BTV Novinite.
Bisser Lyubenov, who was visiting the dolphinarium, told the publication, as per the BBC:
‘There was a disturbance, the dolphins stopped playing and performing tricks,’
He then added that visitors were immediately asked to leave.
Another witness reported that visitors could see the body of the baby dolphin from the park’s café.
However, the dolphinarium has denied the witnesses reports, stating that the death did not happen during a live show and in front of children.
Tsvetan Stanev, a biologist who works at the tourist attraction, said the baby and its mother had been separated from the other dolphins since the calf’s birth.
As reported by the BBC, he said:
You can’t have a mother leaving its child in order to take part in the show. This can happen about six months after the birth.
A baby dolphin taking part in performances nine days after it was born – this has never happened in this dolphinarium.
However, concerns over the well being of the animals at the facility continue to grow after five dolphins and a seal have died within the last five years. This mortality rate is said to be much higher than in similar marine parks.
Yavor Gechev, from the animal protection organisation Four Paws explained:
This means categorically that conditions don’t meet even the minimal standards for keeping such animals.
The animals are struggling there, they are not surviving.
Since news of the devastating incident broke on social media, outraged animal lovers have launched a petition calling for the closure of the park.
Sharing the petition on Facebook, one person wrote:
I saw the show once and I’m still horrified about the way the dolphins get treated! It’s clear that a big profit is made at the expense of the animals who are forced to perform too often.
Four Paws revealed that just days after the the poor creature’s death, a group of Bulgarian lawmakers proposed a change in animal protection laws which will allow live shows to involve the two sea lions which are currently only used to ‘kiss’ tourists for pictures.
If shows involving sea lions are allowed to happen, this will be hell for the animals.
Lawmakers need to change the way they think and consider banning or limiting the existing performances with dolphins instead.
These days it is globally recognised that it is harmful for cetaceans to be held in captivity, due to their socially complex nature which requires the freedom of the sea.
As whole, Europe has been leaning towards the closure of such facilities, with the exception of Spain, where the number of captive dolphins is still disconcertingly high.