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World Animal Protection unveils new campaign calling for end to captive dolphin breeding at Gold Coast’s Sea World

World Animal Protection unveils new campaign calling for end to captive dolphin breeding at Gold Coast’s Sea World
November 13, 2020

World Animal Protection has today unveiled the next phase of their campaign to ban captive dolphin breeding at Gold Coast theme park, Sea World, by calling on the likely new owners of Village Roadshow Limited - BGH Capital - to rule out the practice.

With a final shareholder vote on the takeover bid taking place at the end of this month, World Animal Protection wants to highlight to the potential new owners issues relating to Sea World's dolphins with the aim that if successful BGH Capital will consult with World Animal Protection to make this the last generation of dolphins bred in captivity.

A large 10x15 metre billboard in Melbourne’s Lonsdale Street - close to BGH Capital’s offices - and an Australian Financial Review advertisement have been designed to draw the attention of the private equity firm to the issue of Sea World's captive dolphins,

With Dolphin Marine Conservation Park (DMCP) in Coffs Harbour announcing last year they will end captive breeding, Sea World is now the only venue in Australia where this still takes place.

World Animal Protection, Head of Campaigns Ben Pearson explained “World Animal Protection is calling on BGH Capital to implement a captive breeding ban should they be successful in acquiring Village Roadshow. 

“We want them to make this the last generation of dolphins bred to suffer in captivity.

“Breeding more dolphins that can live up to 50 years is unjustifiable given the cruelty involved and the declining social acceptability of dolphin captivity.

“Ending captive dolphin breeding will not threaten the future viability of Village Roadshow. It would be a win for dolphins and for shareholders.”

World Animal Protection and Action for Dolphins are working together with DMCP on a sea sanctuary project, designed to house their existing dolphins in a semi-open sea enclosure.

The organisation says "the tide is also turning when it comes to the companies that facilitate bookings at dolphin venues around the world", citing travel brands like TripAdvisor, Virgin Holidays and British Airways Holidays having already committed to both stop selling tickets to dolphin shows and encounters and to stop promoting captive dolphin and whale attractions. 

Research conducted by Pure Profile (December 2019), who surveyed 1,000 Australians population proportionate to each state/territory reveals 70% Australians prefer to see dolphins in the wild, and 60% are willing to pay an extra half more for this experience. (Statistics are rounded to closest whole percent.)

More than 22,000 people from Australia and New Zealand signed World Animal Protection’s petition calling on the Queensland Government to ban captive breeding at Sea World and begin work on a sea sanctuary for the dolphins who cannot be released into the wild.

World Animal Protection is calling on the public to be a voice for dolphins and sign their pledge to only see dolphins in the wild on their websites at and

Click here to view World Animal Protection’s report Behind the smile: The multibillion-dollar dolphin-entertainment industry.

Key claims from the report:

  • 3,603 cetaceans were identified at facilities around the world: eight out of 10 (3,029) were dolphins and 87% of those were bottlenose dolphins
  • 66% of dolphins, at 233 venues identified in our research, were kept in concrete tanks
  • Of the 233 venues keeping dolphins in tanks, 95 venues used only indoor tanks, keeping 575 dolphins in conditions where they never experience sunlight or changes in weather
  • The average size of the largest primary tank used at dolphin facilities is just 444 metre² - 200,000 times smaller than their natural home range and only slightly larger than an IMAX movie screen

World Animal Protection has moved the world to protect animals for more than 50 years. The organisation’s activities include working with companies to ensure high standards of welfare for the animals in their care, working with governments and other stakeholders to prevent wild animals being cruelly traded, trapped or killed, and saving the lives of animals and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them in disaster situations.

Sea World’s Rescue and Rehabilitation 
While Sea World’s dolphins are one of its best known and oldest features, behind the scenes the theme park is responsible for major conservation projects involving dolphins and marine mammals. The Sea World rescue team, which collaborates with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, undertakes the rescue of stranded and entrapped marine animals - including dolphins, turtles, whales and penguins - and has been called upon numerous times by governments and authorities to assist with marine animal strandings, frequently then embarking on the rehabilitation of these animals if they are injured.

If these rescued animals are unable to return to the wild they remain at the Gold Coast attraction.

Read more about TripAdvisor’s commitment here and Virgin Holiday’s commitment here to not selling or promoting captive dolphin and whale attractions.

Images top and centre: Sea World Credit: Dean Sewell.

Article amended 2.45pm, 16th November 2020 to include reference to Sea World’s  rescue and rehabilitation work.

Related Articles

13th October 2020 - Takeover offer for Village Roadshow ‘fair and reasonable’

29th August 2020 - Village Roadshow commits to theme ride regeneration despite impact of Coronavirus losses

17th August 2020 - Village Roadshow moves toward acquisition by private equity firm

28th June 2020 - Plans move forward for new dolphin sea sanctuary at Coffs Harbour

11th March 2020 - Australian Marine Conservation Society highlights endangered shark facing extinction

24th January 2020 - Private equity group BGH Capital submits rival bid for Village Roadshow

23rd December 2019 - Sea World hit with new protests over dolphin care

20th December 2019 - Private equity firm makes $750 million offer for Village Roadshow

16th December 2019 - Sea World has ‘nothing to hide’ in its dolphin care

7th October 2019 - Sea World hits back at TripAdvisor ticket promotion ban

4th October 2019 - TripAdvisor adds Sea World on the Gold Coast to list of attractions it will not sell tickets for

11th September 2019 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks reveal schedule for opening of new Sea World attractions

28th August 2019 - Sea World team releases pair of rehabilitated green turtles

15th June 2019 - Coffs Harbour Dolphin Marine Conservation Park moves forward sea-pen sanctuary plan

21st May 2019 - Sea World Cruises launch new whale watching vessel

11th May 2019 - Australian Marine Conservation Society compares parties’ election policies on reefs and oceans

14th February 2019 - Sea World’s oldest dolphin dies aged 55

15th December 2018 - Animal activists disrupt Sea World dolphin and seal shows

6th October 2017 - Speculation rises over prospective Merlin takeover of SeaWorld

29th June 2017 - SeaWorld Entertainment releases inaugural corporate responsibility report

11th February 2017 - Animal rights protesters disrupt Sea World dolphin show

23rd December 2016 - Sea World welcomes Baby Dolphin

6th December 2016 - Sea World Rescue Team rehabilitates injured dolphin

4th November 2015 - Sea World Rescue Team Rehabilitates Dolphin

7th January 2015 - Animal rights campaigners target Sea World dolphins

6th June 2011 - Sea World Manager features in whale documentary

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