Singapore casino resort urged to free dolphins

Posted at 12/07/2012 7:59 PM | Updated as of 12/07/2012 7:59 PM

SINGAPORE - Animal rights activists on Friday renewed calls for a Singapore casino complex to free dolphins it acquired for a marine park, threatening to campaign for a boycott if their demand is ignored.

The Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) of Singapore claimed the bottlenose dolphins were "being housed in appalling conditions, in tiny barren swimming pools" at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).

"ACRES is issuing a final ultimatum to RWS: work with ACRES and Earth Island Institute to rehabilitate and release the dolphins back into the wild," the animal rights group said in a statement.

Failing this, ACRES warned that it "will launch a full-fledged boycott against not just Resorts World, but all Genting properties" next month, the statement said.

RWS is owned by Malaysian business group Genting.

ACRES' call coincided with a grand celebration on Friday by the casino resort to mark the full operation of all its attractions, which also include a Universal Studios theme park, hotels and Singapore's first casino.

The marine park is billed as the world's biggest oceanarium.

"We have tried our very best to establish a dialogue with RWS, but they have ignored our calls for meetings and turned a deaf ear to our concerns," said ACRES chief executive Louis Ng.

"We hope that we won't need to launch a boycott, but we are ready to do so if needed and we are confident that members of the public will support this."

RWS acquired 27 dolphins from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific between 2008 and 2009 and sent them to the Philippines to be trained while the marine park in Singapore was being built.

Three of the dolphins have died in captivity, including one that perished last month while being transported from the Philippines to Singapore.

The remaining 24 dolphins are due to make their public debut at the park next year after they adapt to their new environment.

RWS had no immediate comment on the ACRES boycott threat, but it had previously stressed that it was "sparing no effort and time to ensure our thousands of marine animals get the best care they could possibly get".

It had also urged ACRES "to focus on areas where it can constructively contribute to marine conservation, rather than engage in online antics to encourage netizens to harass or heckle us".

RWS has said that the park's team of experts and specialists are animal lovers themselves who have worked in reputable zoological facilities across the world.