The Ministry of Environment and Forests has blocked some state governments and private bodies’ plans to set up dolphin amusement parks, citing potential threats to the endangered species.
The ministry, in its May 17 order, said dolphinariums can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of cetaceans (marine mammals) by altering their behaviour and causing extreme distress to them.
The ministry argued that the definition of a zoo covers dolphinariums and hence require prior approval. According to the ministry, the Gangetic Dolphin has been declared the national aquatic animal with a view to protecting them. The decision is likely to impact a number of such proposals pending before state governments.
“The cetaceans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphins’ behaviour have suggested that the unusually high intelligence as compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and should have their own specific rights and it is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes,” the order said.