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Three former circus bottlenose dolphins were released into the open sea in Indonesia on September 3, 2022, after years of captivity entertaining tourists who would touch and swim with them. 

Ric O’Barry’s The Dolphin Project NGO took a decade-long campaign that includes public education movements, advertisements, artworks, multi programmes and info drives asking people to boycott dolphin shows.  The successful campaign lead to the Indonesian government’s decision to rescue the dolphins. 

Minister of Forestry and Environment for the Republic of Indonesia, Dr. Ir. Siti Nurbaya, M.Sc officially opened the gate and offered the dolphins their freedom. Credit: DolphinProject.com

The Minister of Forestry and Environment for the Republic of Indonesia, Dr. Ir. Siti Nurbaya, M.Sc and her delegation opened the gate at the sanctuary on Saturday. The three dolphins Johnny, Rocky and Rambo are now free back to the wild ocean. 

Rescued dolphin Johnny with GPS tracking device moments before release from Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center in Banyuwedang Bay, West Bali, Indonesia. Credit: DolphinProject.com

A GPS Tracker will be monitoring the dolphins for one year from their release, Under ideal conditions, dolphins should be released into their home range, as documented in the Protocol for Releasing Captive Dolphins. Two release sites were recommended: Karimun Jawa island and West Bali National Park. While the dolphin project team of experts advocated for the former, the Indonesian government selected the latter.

Inspiring campaigns like this which took so many years and effort give so much hope to all animal rights activists and campaigners for a future that won’t need poor sea animals as captives just for human entertainment. Asia still needs much work to progress in putting a stop not just to dolphin captivity but to the slaughter of dolphin and other aquatic animals.

Meanwhile, in the near neighbour country Japan, the three dolphins got liberated this September, which is a month that starts the mass dolphin massacre and captivity in Taiji

The 2010 Academy Award-winning documentary film, `The Cove’. depicts the work of the International Marine Mammal Project in opposing the dolphin hunts in Taiji in order to expose and campaign against the cruel mass abuse and slaughter of dolphins. Ric O’Barry, who is a former dolphin trainer, was also the main featured activist in the documentary film ‘The Cove’.

In the film, Ric mentioned “I feel somewhat responsible cause it was the Flipper TV series that created this multi-billion Industry, It created this desire to swim with them, kiss them and hug them and love them and it created all these captures.” He was asked before if he likes to extend his compassion and animal activism and be vegan and he responded:

I have the utmost respect for anyone who’s vegan. I’m not, although I have tried, and continue to try to be vegan. That’s one of the things that will save this planet, I understand and agree with that.

I don’t eat meat, but when I leave here I’ll be living in the jungle helping with the rescue and rehabilitation of dolphins. There are no vegetables, no restaurants.

I will be surviving as the dolphins survive. I have to catch my own fish for the dolphins and for myself. If I don’t eat what the dolphins are eating, I don’t eat.

That’s not an excuse, veganism is the way to go, there’s no question about it. I respect anyone who can do it. Both my wife and my 6 yr old daughter are vegan.”

We hope that the Japanese Government will also be as cooperative as the Indonesian Government for having the heart to listen more to the dolphin freedom campaigners. 

Take our Vegan FTA pledge not to visit aquariums and other facilities which hold wild animals captive for entertainment.

Angelik Velayo, Angel of VeganFTA Philippines or Veggibee vegan, is a mother and her children's home educator, social media creative manager, public speaker, and indie artist based in Davao, Philippines. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Communication Arts at the Philippine Women’s University.