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by angela expósito Friday, Oct. 05, 2007 at 4:07 AM 04142935726 Venezuela


To: International Environmental Institutions

We, the undersigned, members of an international coalition of many NGOs, biologists and activists concerned for the welfare of wild animals, are writing to express our grave concerns on behalf of Venezuelan decision in Margarita Island (Nueva Esparta State) to authorize and support the operation of a zoo and aquarium inside the facilities of the amusement complex made up by the Dolphinarium Waterland Mundo Submarino – Marino and Diverland Park. For the last 15 years, Water Land 's show has generated controversy around the world. In Argentina they took Cheryl (a Russian dolphin) away from Mr. Ric O’Barry, against the decision of a court order that gave him the permit to transport and release that dolphin. The company ran away with Cheryl and then in 1997 the dolphin died because of stress in Margarita Island, inside their facilities.

In Guatemala in 2001, Dolphins Ariel and Turbo were abandoned in a filthy dug out hole with no filtration system to die of starvation and heat. Just in time, the Guatemalan authorities turned the near-dead cetaceans over to a rescue and rehabilitation organization. The dolphins had not eaten in 10 days, but miraculously they were revived, rehabilitated in a sea pen, and they were released back into the ocean where they belong. Soon after, it was discovered that Water Land had falsified its paperwork. They have files in courts in Guatemala, Colombia and even in Venezuela. In 2004, a dozen of Venezuelan fishermen and a Mexican trainer were arrested by the Coastguard while maintaining 10 dolphins in a sea pen. During confiscation of these dolphins, some of the fishermen were arrested while coming in a small boat to the pens, with two more dolphins recently caught. A female died because of mistreatment during the capture. This travelling circus has received strong opposition to their operations in the West Indies, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Guatemala. Many travelling circuses are related to this company, and that is the way how they also can transport and trade animals without major problems between borders (For more information please see the following link: The dolphins involved in these shows, as well as the other wild animals kept inside this amusement park, are placed under extreme stress, and it is unconscionable that Venezuela would allow their transport and continued confinement under these conditions in infrastructure that is actually property of the Venezuelan people. These noisy, stressful and relentless conditions present an extreme threat the survival of the dolphins concerned.
We have seen the "legal permit" that Waterland representatives used in 2004 in order to try to justify the capture of the 12 dolphins between mentioned previously. This permit was issued by the Venezuelan Ministry of Environment to import four dolphins from Guyana. As it looks to us, that permit does not represent a legal permit to capture dolphins in Venezuelan waters. On the other side, the wild officer in Guyana who issued the CITES export permit was dismissed because issuing the permit, but in Venezuela these guilty people are still doing business with our biodiversity... please let's find a way to stop this non-sense business called Waterland.
This company must not keep their business around Latin America, nor in other part of the world, while keeping the horror of mistreatment and possible animal illegal traffic. To the best of our knowledge, they might be the most abusive and irresponsible towards the dolphins of its kind. We are also very concerned at reports that their care of terrestrial animals kept in an amusement park on Margarita Island (Diverland amusement park is the place where Waterland operates) appears to be also very irresponsible, with noise and lights at night, together with concerts and plays and cages that resemble zoos from the last century.
We respectfully urge the international parties and international bodies involved in biodiversity, regulating international trade in wildlife and in regulating zoos and aquariums to implement legislation that prohibits the instalment of animal shows and zoos companies with such background in any country. Moral and ethical background has to be proven for people managing wild animals, as permits given to them are becoming the excuse to illegally trade between countries. We also urge the international wildlife preservation institutions in order to open a reasonable talk to Venezuelan authorities to guarantee the best protocols for proposing, opening, and operating a zoo and any other wild management reservoir, including the review of moral and ethical’s background of directors, companies and/ or owners.
A peaceful massive concentration will be held at the main entrance of Waterland - Diverland, on October 12th, 2007 (Friday). The purpose is to claim the closure of this business in our country, since we believe the show is disrespectful, not only to the dolphins but also to all the other wild animals being held there for the last three months. This is, of course, a lack of respect to all Latin American countries and their Biodiversity Laws. We are requesting support of all international organizations who care about the welfare of animals around the world, and furthermore, if necessary we pledge for a international independent inspection of Waterland and Diverland facilities as soon as possible. We really hope to count on international organizations such as the one you represent,
Sincerely the animal helping echo...
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