Dolphinairiums admit to not seeing standards

| 11/06/2010

(CNS): How the two captive dolphin facilities are managing their animals is still unclear as both had admitted they have not seen the controversial guidelines from the “Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquarium Standards and Guidelines”. The document has become the subject of an FOI request which is now going to the courts for judicial review as the department of agriculture seeks to keep the guidelines secret. However, the document is supposed to be informing public policy over how the dolphins in Cayman are to be managed which still remains in question as the facilities do not appear to be following any local official standards.

The issue of licenses for the both the facilities by the DoA under the animals law also remains in question as the manager at Dolphin Discovery told CNS he believed he had an operator’s license, as he had a considerable amount of documentation from the department of agriculture, while the manager of Dolphin Cove confirmed that the department had not yet come up with the official parameters for the licensing of the facilities.
CNS has repeatedly contacted both the Department of Agriculture and the ministry and has had no response to enquiries about the reason for keeping the AMMPA guidelines secret or how the facilities are currently being monitored and licensed.
Following the continued controversy over the facilities compounded recently by the death of the a baby Dolphin born in captivity at Dolphin Discovery, the question of how these marine mammals are being managed has raised further concerns among local anti-captive dolphin activists.
When CNS spoke with Neil Burrowes from Dolphin Cove he said he had not seen the AMMPA standards but most of his staff had worked at facilities in the past that were members of the alliance and followed the standards hence they were well aware of the guidelines.
More importantly he said his people were experienced, professionals who knew how to care for, manage and protect the dolphins with which they had close and special bonds. Burrowes said that Dolphin Cove was working closely with the DoA and complying with all of their requests but he admitted that the operator’s licenses had not been issued as the local standards had not been published.
He said the controversial issue over the FOI request could be easily resolved if the department set up its standards based on the AMMPA guidelines with a few minor changes, it could then be released. Burrowes said he was happy to comply with whatever requirements officials requested and had never stepped over the restrictions placed on his facility.
Although he was keen to introduce open water experiences with divers and snorkelers out in the ocean with the dolphins he had been refused permission by the Department of Environment on every occasion he had asked and he was complying with those refusals.
Despite what he said were the controversies and the misunderstandings regarding the facilities, his dolphins were happy and content, and kept to the best standards as a result the experiences people had interacting with them wereincredible.
Carlos Mareno the manager at Dolphin Discovery who admitted while he personally had not seen the document as the alliance liked to keep in confidential, he said that facility employed experienced staff from the corporate offices of Dolphin Discovery who were familiar with the guidelines as the Mexico facility is a member of the alliance. He added that Dolphin Discovery had made an application to join the alliance and was currently going through the paperwork.
He said Dolphin Discovery was operating to the highest possible standards and he believed he had all of the local licenses and permits as required under the law. He said he was not exactly sure about the operator’s license but he said he had numerous documents from the Department of Agriculture who checked and monitored both the facilities and the dolphins on a regular basis and he believed that facility had that license as well.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Come on Mr. Governor please tell the AG to stop his foolish law hideing, release these so called Standards and Guidelines stipulated by the Dept of Agri.  That is the right thingto do an you know it.

    Thanks Sir.

  2. Black Coral says:

     Yet another example of the public service sitting on an important issue.  Better to just make that stack of paper on your desk bigger and avoid the issue at hand.  Heaven forbid someone actually qualified is able to make good policy that protects the people and animals of Cayman. If it takes many months to get a work permit through immigration, you can bet it’ll take years to get this paper work through.  You get what you get Cayman…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Hon. Julliana O’Connor-Connolly this is your Ministry’s responsibility to stop the Dept. of Agri. law breaking and cover up. 

      Please come clean and tell the people that you are going to put a stop to their nonsense to hide their laws and regulations.

    • just sayen says:

      And that’s the way uha uha we like it uha uha! in Cayman.  When all the good successful places are crowded Cayman will still be a quiet, uncrowded place for the fool fool people.  Dangerous, backwards, but uncrowded.

  3. My2cents says:

    So it is obvious now. NO STANDARDS EXIST.

    They were not drafted by the DOA, hence they have nothing to release to the FOI, and none of these horrendous "attractions" have them anyway.

    What a shocking travesty. Those poor animals suffering, and the senseless slaughter and collection of these creatures continues onwards, funded in part by these two attractions in our Islands.

  4. Sad says:

    I don’t like seeing the animals caged in such small dolphin pools so don’t go. It’s inhumane.

    Whilst a recent visit to Boatswains (my first time) was better than I thought & a nice trip, I was dismayed at the overcrowded & small nature of the holding pens for turtles & found the main turtle area to smell like a toilet.

    Standards need improving.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would venture to say….no guidelines exist with D.O.A. which is why they are appealing the ruling.

  6. Richard N. Parson says:

    If they cared anything about the Dolphins, they would not have trapped these beautiful wild animals in these tiny pools!

    • turtle man says:

        At least the dolphins are not being hunted to extinction and farmed for food like the turtles.  Many are the animals that are used by man and  although there is lots of abuse there is also many that are cared for better than they could care for themselves.  Lots of cats and dogs on Cayman are abused much more and often.  Lots of people too.  More and more.  Look at the big picture and hopefully you can see that the dolphins have a better life than many others on Cayman.  Just my own small opinion.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are an idiot if you think that Dolphins are not being hunted into extinction. Take a look at the documentary The Cove and you will see that the lives of these dolphins are terribly exploited. They are relentlessly hunted until exhaustion by drive fisheries. Then if they are deemed good enough they get sold to a sub-standard dolphinarium where they are forced to perform tricks. To think those are the lucky ones. The left over dolphins are slaughtered. Maybe you should get your facts straight on the plight of these highly intelligent mammals before running your mouth and comparing them to dogs and cats!!!