On 19th November 2022, animal rights activists marched to Mediterraneo Marine Park (MMP) in Baħar iċ-Cagħaq, Malta, to protest the keeping of animals such as dolphins in captivity and forcing them to perform in shows. Some of the protestors had placards saying, “your entertainment is our torture,” “empty the tanks,” and ” Mediterraneo horror story.”
The protest was prompted by the death of three dolphins in the park, which died in mysterious circumstances (possibly because of lead poisoning). Three females, called Onda, Mar, and Melita, died at the park in the Summer of 2021, and their deaths were initially looked into by the Veterinary Regulations Directorate (VRD). However, a new inquiry by the Office of the Commissioner for Animal Welfare (CAW) found that not enough care or attention was taken by the VRD.
Claria Cutajar from Moviment Graffitti, one of the protesting groups, said MMP and the veterinary department had hidden the deaths of these three dolphins. She asked Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo and parliamentary secretary Alicia Bugeja to stop ignoring issues concerning MMP and close it down. Circuses are illegal in Malta, but MMP runs a dolphin show where dolphins are forced to perform unnatural tricks to entertain paying guests at the park, which is why activists claim it is in fact a circus and it should not be allowed to stage such spectacles. Animal Liberation Malta (ALM) is now asking to look at the classification of the park as a zoo and change it to “circus”, due to its major revenue source being live shows. ALM told MaltaToday, “the remaining dolphins should have the opportunity to be rehoused in a sea pen to live a more natural life and end performing and display to the public.”