As further proof that worldwide attendance of dolphin shows is on the decline, Finland’s only dolphinarium, located in Särkänniemi Adventure Park (also known as Tampereen Särkänniemi) has closed. Congratulations to all of the animal welfare activists in Finland who have been campaigning against the dolphinarium for many years. A special thank you goes to Viivi Senghore, who campaigned solo not long after the facility opened in 1985, bringing awareness to the plight of the dolphins held captive there.
Viivi and Ric O’Barry participated in a protest in Finland in the late 1990’s. In 2010, Finland acknowledged the rights of whales and dolphins, hosting a conference that established a Declaration of Rights for cetaceans. Amongst the conclusions: “No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.”*
In 2013, over 300 people from all parts of Europe demonstrated against all dolphinariums in the European Union. One year later, in 2014, Ric participated in a huge demonstration in Brussels, where over 400 people rallied against keeping dolphins in captivity. Also in 2014, then-Environment Minister, Ville Niinistö, called on the facility to close, stating he felt the keeping of dolphins in captivity was “problematic.”
With the closure of the dolphinarium made official, animal welfare activists in Finland are calling for the dolphins to remain in Finland until a proper retirement sanctuary can be established in Europe.
Presently, the Finnish facility houses four bottlenose dolphins, Veera, Delfi, Leevi and Eevertti, which are all in urgent need of a retirement home. The elder dolphins, Veera and Delfi, were captured in the Gulf of Mexico, off Pine Island, Florida in 1984 by dolphin dealer Dr. Jay Sweeney and Mandy Rodriguez, Director, Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key, Florida. Three other dolphins caught alongside them, Niki, Joona and Happy, are all dead. Given their advanced age, the would probably not survive transport back to Florida. Leevi and Eevertti are both over 20 years old, born in captivity and are in questionable health.
We applaud Tampereen Särkänniemi’s Board of Directors in their decision to close the dolphinarium. The next step is to provide a proper retirement home to these dolphins who have provided years of service, not be sent to another aquarium.” ~ Ric O’Barry
The President of the Marche Region in Italy, Luca Ceriscioli has offered to transfer the four dolphins to the Blue Dolphin Freedom Center, a joint initiative between Cetaceansound and Dolphin Project.
This initiative was designed to help dolphins in trouble. In Europe, nothing like this exists. Together with Ric, we will try to give previously captive animals an opportunity to retire in peace.” ~ Luca Giovagnoli, DVM, Marine Mammal Veterinarian and Dolphin Project consultant