A marine park in Japan has come under fire after a dolphin, 46 penguins and hundreds of fish were reportedly found to be abandoned in a shuttered aquarium since the start of the year.
Animal rights campaigners are speaking up for a female bottlenose dolphin, nicknamed Honey, along with scores of Humboldt penguins and hundreds of other animals who are entrapped in the Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium in the Pacific coastal town of Choshi north-east of Tokyo.
The operator of the marine park reportedly shut the facility in January, following a dramatic drop in visitors’ number after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear crisis.
But, according to the Chiba prefectural Health and Welfare department, the animals remained in the aquarium.
Though the reports said the employees of the park were feeding the animals, the photos and video taken by activists in March and August from outside the vicinity were not very uplifting.
The sight of Honey languishing in a tiny pool in an eerily empty facility and disheveled-looking penguins mounted on a crumbling structure near a pile of debris was indicative of the fact the animals were not being adequately taken care of.
“Honey is a symbol of both the problem of marine parks and Taiji’s hunting practices,” said Akiko Mitsunobu, chief of aquarium issues for Animal Rights Center, a local group.
The dolphin was reportedly captured in 2005 near Taiji– a western port town, notorious for its annual dolphin hunt that was featured in a 2009 documentary film questioning the hunting practices in Japan.
“When we went to check on the facility, she was showing signs of stress, putting her head weakly in and out of the water,” Mitsunobu added. He also said it’s important that animal welfare experts are allowed in the park to ensure whether the claims of the caretakers that the dolphin and penguins are being properly cared for, were true or not.
However, the situation got even more alarming when the animal right campaigners were reportedly refused entry to the facility and the local authorities failed to get in touch with the private owner.
“As a group that handles animals, they have a responsibility to explain what they intend to do with Honey and the other animals,” said Sachiko Azuma, a representative of Japanese animal rights group Peace (Put an End to Animal Cruelty and Exploitation). “Compared to a year ago you can see that her condition has deteriorated. It’s impossible to say that she’s healthy.”
The animals’ plight also triggered a wave of criticism on social media, where people called for the animals to be rescued with the #SaveHoney hashtag.
It is necessary to report it globally. #savehoney#saveadolphin#Shareifyouloveanimals! #PleaseRT?https://t.co/C7eS3enO4m …— ???????????? (@heartycounselor) August 26, 2018
A marine aquarium was bankrupt.then no one took care of himThe owner left a dolphin behind please help him ASAP.
SAVE HONEY THE DOLPHIN ??SHE WAS RIPPED FROM FAMILY IN TAIJI (THE COVE) NOW LEFT ABANDONED IN JAPANESE AQUARIUM ????#DontBuyATicket many other animals abandoned too ????#saveHoneypic.twitter.com/PqRXMZYh7z— Rachel ???? (@Rachelch35) August 29, 2018
This bottlenose dolphin is all alone, living in an aquarium that closed months ago. pic.twitter.com/RCoKAv5pAX— HuffPost (@HuffPost) August 28, 2018
By last week, the marine park had reportedly received hundreds of emails and letters demanding the animals be transferred to a new home.
Banner / Thumbnail : PEACE/Handout via REUTERS