Dolphins at Hardewijk’s Dofinarium will no longer perform tricks in shows
The Dolfinarium in Hardewijk has taken the decision to no longer encourage dolphins to jump through hoops or sea lions to clap for audiences, however, the controversial shows will continue to take place.
2020 report heavily criticised the animal park
The park has faced growing pressure over the past few years to address the issue of unfair animal treatment, and in 2020 a committee commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality published a report criticising the park.
According to the report, animals were relied on as performers instead of being allowed to live and move freely, the animal enclosures were substandard, and the photo opportunities guests have at the Dolphinarium contradict the educational purpose of zoos and animal parks.
Dolfinarium bans tricks from future animal shows
According to the park, employees have worked over the past few years to rework the animal shows and allow “more space for education.” Now, the park has also decided to further adjust its programming, eliminating all animal tricks, but have announced that animal shows will still take place in the future.
The new programme focus on the natural behaviour of animals and the influence of humans on nature, replacing the “fun” from animal shows with more educational content and a new water park.
Animal welfare organisation calls on Dutch government to take action
Animal welfare organisation World Animal Protection remains critical of the park and its programming and feels that all shows should be cancelled. “Children learn that it is fine to use wild animals for our entertainment,” the organisation writes. “It is not the visitor that should be central, but the welfare of the animals."
The organisation would also like to see the Dutch government enforce a breeding ban on the Dolfinarium, with a representative saying “living in captivity for dolphins is not acceptable.” The last dolphin to be born in the park was in 2017.