Peru: Animal rights groups protest living conditions of dolphins in captivity

Dolphins Yaku and Wayra have been held in two small pools since 2010.

Meet Yaku and Wayra. They used to be the star attractions of San Isidro’s glamorous Hotel and Casino Los Delfines, and now they live in two small pools in a forgotten corner in Chorrillos.

The two dolphins of 26 and 22 years old, whose names mean ‘water’ and ‘air’ respectively, were at Los Delfines from 1997 to 2010. Then the hotel was closed and they were moved to a dolphinarium in La Herradura in Chorrillos, where they live in two connected pools, each 7m in diameter and just under 10 m deep.

The State is unable to free the dolphins because they’re owned. Sources at the Viceministery of Fishery say that the dolphins’ water and space meet legal requirements, but that their living conditions are not good.

“We visit them frequently and it is clear that they receive food and are seen by veterinarians, but their state is definitely not ideal,” said the sources, according to El Comercio.

Two animal rights groups gathered to protest the dolphins’ captivity and living conditions recently. The Peruvian Association of Protection of Animals and the Scientific Organization for the Conservation of Aquatic Animals (ORCA) joined forces last Friday and organized a protest on La Herradura beach.

Around 20 protesters gathered to demand that the dolphins be transferred to a dolphinarium in a foreign country, and also that the law allowing them to be kept in captivity be modified.

Stefan Austermühle, executive director of the association Mundo Azul says that the dolphins need to be moved.

“The Government should confiscate them and take them to a place with better conditions, but it doesn’t do that because it doesn’t have a place for that.”

Austermühle suggests that the government could move the dolphins to a dolphinarium in a different country, like Mexico, for example.

He says that the real problem, however, is that dolphins get captured in the first place, and then that their treatment isn’t well enough regulated. “[In the case of the dolphins] like it happens in other countries, live capture and importation of living species for captivity must be prohibited. Only that way can we avoid more cases like that of Yaku and Wayra.”

The group says that Yaku and Wayra are not domestic animals, although they have been raised in captivity.

Carlos Yaipén, representative of the NGO ORCA said that they were protesting to improve the dolphins’ conditions and also demanding a change in the law that allows the capture and captivity of dolphins.

“We are asking for better conditions for these dolphins, that a process starts so that they can reproduce and that the owners (the Levy Calvo brothers) have the will to make the transfers,” he said.

“It goes against the desires of the town, there is a lot of indignation about this,” Yaipén added.

Proposed law to punish maltreatment of animals

Congressman Carlos Bruce (parliamentary consultation) has proposed a law that would punish animal mistreatment by up to four years in prison.

“(A person) who mistreats an animal is able to calmly mistreat a woman or a child. This is how (the people) who abuse those they consider weak,” he said. He is hoping to have his proposed law seen in May.

If you’re interested in signing the petition, visit community petitions website Avaaz.

By Hannah Vickers | http://www.peruthiswee