There has been some discussion about the state of the dolphins in our care. Allow us to provide you the background.
We believe that now, more than ever, zoological parks are needed, as increasingly throughout the world, we see the blurring of boundaries between wild animals and humans. We note with anguish the plight of the amazing marine life in our oceans, as they fight for survival against environmental disasters. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the earthquake/reactor meltdown in Japan are just two recent examples that will continue to challenge the survival of animal life in the wild for decades to come.
These grave lessons tell us that we continue to need zoological facilities as they play an important ocean awareness role in our communities. They allow people to observe, learn about and better understand so many species of animals. If not for zoos, how many of us would have a close encounter with the unforgettable Pandas or endangered Orangutans? If not for zoos and aquariums nearly 20 species would be extinct. It is well documented that if people are emotionally engaged in a subject, they are more likely to take action or stay informed about it.
As it pertains to dolphins, marine parks were the institutions that completely changed the public’s attitudes about marine mammals. People’s disregard and fear were replaced with respect. The issue remains today: if one could not go deep sea diving, or have the means to explore the vast oceans, how then does one come face to face with dolphins? What levels of stress would a speeding marine life viewing boat chasing after dolphins in the open seas have on these beautiful creatures?
Indeed, well-run zoological facilities have a fundamental role to play in giving people a better understanding of our animal kingdom. They provide deeply personal encounters with controlled wildlife, allowing people to learn first hand about animal behaviour, care and needs and have a profound impact on people. Millions across the world visit aquaria and zoo facilities each year, and many have been inspired to go on to illustrious careers in animal care, conservation and veterinary science.
High on our agenda is our mission to make the Marine Life Park (MLP) a world-class institution for conservation of marine mammals.
The MLP team will collaborate with other globally recognized research facilities and institutions in joint research studies. And on the educational front, we will collaborate with Sea Research Foundation to jointly develop a marine environmental curriculum for students in Southeast Asia.
We understand only too well that caring for thousands of marine animals comes with a very big responsibility. If done correctly, there is no question that animals, including sharks, rays, turtles, fish and dolphins, can acclimate very well to life in the care of man while also providing vital conservation and research opportunities.
We can assure you that the dolphins in our care are healthy and residing in a facility that is safe and conducive to their health and well being. The facilities exceed stringent international regulations and ensure that our dolphins have the space to exercise, socialize, rest and grow healthily.
From the very beginning we ensured that we abided with the international CITES regulations and spirit – no calves or lactating mothers were among our dolphins that were humanely and sustainably collected.
Our dedicated team of experts, including highly respected veterinarians and experts from various fields in marine husbandry, is providing the very best care for our dolphins with a superior diet, daily behavioral enrichment, and veterinary care. There are five vets in this core team, counting over 75 years of experience between them. The MLP Team invite you to periodically read our MLP blog to be updated on the care that we provide for the dolphins and the state of our facility.
We have also created a marine mammal clinical diagnostic laboratory to ensure proactive animal health exams and treatments are available around-the-clock. All our dolphins have been under a robust health and husbandry programme since the beginning, and this will continue at the animals’ new facility in the MLP.
We are unequivocal in our commitment to taking on the responsibility of providing uncompromised care for all our marine animals including our dolphins. Our dolphins have been in our care for three years. They have acclimated to human care, and we are confident they will continue to thrive.
Dolphins in marine parks have lived in excess of 40 years, in fact, dolphins in the wild do not always enjoy a totally carefree life; they fight for survival from predators, fishing boats, pollution, and, as mentioned earlier, environmental disasters.
MLP is scheduled to open to public in 2012. It has to date supported several conservation projects such as coral relocation and poaching patrols in the Galapagos Islands. In 2008, RWS launched the Marine Life Fund to sponsor research, education and conservation efforts related to marine life. The RWS Marine Life Fund has set aside S$1 million each year since 2010 to deserving applications with a good cause. To encourage and cultivate an interest for the oceans, besides researchers and NGOs, the Fund is also open to school children. Twenty-five percent of this Fund is set aside for students working on school projects related to marine conservation, and could span fieldwork to classroom models.
Like many other reputable institutions, we care about marine places and wildlife and remain deeply committed to doing our part for marine conservation and education. Most of all we care about our dolphins and the other thousands of marine animals that will call our park home. We encourage you to visit our website and periodically read our MLP blog to know us better.