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Coffs Harbour dolphin attraction facing court for ‘misleading’ animal welfare claims

Coffs Harbour dolphin attraction facing court for ‘misleading’ animal welfare claims
April 15, 2017

Coffs Harbour's Dolphin Marine Magic attraction is facing legal action from animal welfare charity Australia for Dolphins for what it says is misleading advertising.

According to a report by the ABC, the anti-animal cruelty group is arguing that dolphins living at the former the Pet Porpoise Pool are not "happy and healthy" as Dolphin Marine Magic claims, because scientific evidence suggests the emotional and physical needs of dolphins cannot be adequately met in chlorinated pools.

Australia for Dolphins is using Australian Consumer Law to demand Dolphin Marine Magic stop using the words as they allege the public is being misled.

However, Dolphin Marine Magic says it is proud of the way its dolphins are treated and Manager Aaron Tolley says the animals are in good hands.

Tolley told the ABC "we work with our animals every single day so we know they're happy.

"We're very proud of the positive welfare that we provide here at the park to all the animals and we were actually very proud last year to receive accreditation from the Australian Zoo and Aquarium Association based on the positive welfare here at the park.

"We have a licence which is granted to us from the NSW DPI (Department of Primary Industries) ... we've also had RSPCA inspectors come in again as well and inspect us and again there has been no welfare concerns."

However, Australia for Dolphins is convinced if people knew the evidence against keeping dolphins in captivity, they would see through Dolphin Marine Magic's claims.

Australia for Dolphins Advocacy Director Jordan Sosnowski stated “we think if people knew that dolphins' emotional and physical needs couldn't be met there, they wouldn't buy a ticket to this marine park.

"Really, the legal case at the end of the day is about exposing the truth. We want to ensure that the marine parks are honest about what life is really like in captivity."

The group, who filed the lawsuit in the Federal Circuit Court, will call experts to prove that dolphins suffer stress, anxiety and early death in captivity.

Sosnowski added "the entire marine park industry is built on the public believing marketing claims that dolphins are happy in captivity and if we can show this isn't the case we hope to aid global efforts to abolish dolphin captivity.

"As far back as 1985 there was a Senate report that recommended dolphin captivity be phased out in Australia."

However, Tolley is confident that evidence supports their position and says "we are more than happy with the way we do things".

Australia for Dolphins has also previously targeted Gold Coast attraction Sea World’s dolphin programs, ignoring the valuable conservation and rescue work carried out by Sea World’s marine sciences team. 

Dolphin Marine Magic remains the only dolphin attraction in NSW.

Images: Guests interations with dolphins at Dolphin Marine Magic.

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