A Dutch judge has temporarily blocked the transfer of eight dolphins, two walruses and two sea lions from the Netherlands to China after animal rights organizations launched an urgent court case.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and House of Animals took the Dutch amusement park Dolfinarium in Harderwijk to court to stop the export of the animals to the Hainan Ocean Paradise, a theme park currently under construction in southern China.
“During the hearing, it was confirmed, among other things, that Dolfinarium will earn money from this export, and that is not allowed,” Karen Soeters from House of Animals said. She added that the animals would be used to entertain people at the park in China.
The dolphins, walruses and sea lions would also be highly stressed if they were moved from a familiar environment to a place worse than Dolfinarium, the organizations said.
The animal rights groups also opened a case against the Dutch government, which authorized the transfer, saying it had a “duty to ensure” the welfare of the animals.
The judge “gave weight to the irreversibility of a possible transfer to China,” the court in Amsterdam said, adding that Dolfinarium is “not allowed to use the export licenses until a [final] decision has been made.”
“We are extremely happy with this judgement and have full confidence that the judges will also rule that these export permits should have never been issued,” said Soeters, who referred to Dolfinarium as the marine mammal prison.
Dolfinarium is one of Europe’s largest marine parks. The park has been criticized by animal rights activists who said the animals are kept in small spaces and made to perform for visitors. Dolfinarium is expected to appeal the judgement.
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