Howard Lee /
At the turn of this year, I interviewed Louis Ng, the Executive Director of the Animals Concerns and Research & Education Society (ACRES), and one of the questions was what ACRES plan to do for the coming year. Ng affirmed ACRES's commitment to campaign for the release of the dolphins headed for Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) as part of its interactive dolphin spa programme.
On 27 May 2011, ACRES delivered on that promise with the launch of the "Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins” campaign, which aims to create awareness about the plight of the dolphins through music videos, hence urging people to take action through their own video petitions.
Perhaps they might not really be the saddest dolphins in the world to date, but you can't really doubt the ingenuity of the campaign in exploiting social media. You definitely will not doubt the tenacity of ACRES.
The campaign pivoted on the release of an undercover video of the remaining 25 dolphins (two have died in captivity) in Ocean Adventure marine park in Subic Bay, the Philippines. The filming was not without its challenges. "The main obstacle was getting caught doing it undercover but we managed to view the dolphins and successfully completed the investigations," said Ng.
The campaign goes beyond highlighting the plight of the dolphins in captivity, being trained and prepped for their eventual life at RWS. ACRES's efforts are backed by a detailed report that outlines the errors and pitfalls of keeping wide-ranging wild animals in captivity, including the dangers associated with transmitting diseases to humans. It is not just an animal rights and environmental issue.
The main campaign music video features children and members of the public urging RWS to free the dolphins. Local and foreign bands have produced different covers of the campaign song. “Using social media and by approaching this issue more creatively, we will be able to engage the public more effectively and reach out to a wider audience," said Ng.
"ACRES hope that members of the public will join ACRES in our mission to end this injustice. They may not love animals but they should feel a sense of injustice happening at our doorstep. The dolphins have endured being removed from their homes in the Solomon Islands and stressful transportation. Some of the dolphins watched their family members die, were subjected to living in small, rusty enclosures and endured a year of training sessions. The only thing in store for all of them now is the final stressful transportation to Singapore to entertain RWS guests."
AsiaOne reported that "RWS, which runs Singapore's first casino as well as the adjacent Universal Studios theme park, had no immediate reaction, saying it was studying the campaign's allegations in detail."
"ACRES hopes that RWS makes a moral decision and let the dolphins go. They believe strongly in CSR (corporate social responsibility) and marine protection and should walk the talk. They should note that even Chris Porter, who sold the wild-caught dolphins to RWS, called for RWS to ‘review its motivation for using these animals as a tourist draw’. He was concerned that ‘RWS is using the animals primarily to make money while telling the public that its aim is to educate the public on marine conservation.’”
But the message is meant not just for RWS, but also for our government, as our representative in the global community. Ng hopes that "the Singapore government will follow the progressive example set by other countries (such as Chile and Costa Rica) and ban the capture and display of dolphins, recognising that these animals belong in the vast open oceans.”
“They should also heed the advice given by Mexican Senator Jorge Legorreta Ordorica (Chairman, Committee of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries) who urged Singapore to consider Mexico's experience and 'the disturbing mortality' of the animals when evaluating applications for the permits to import such dolphins,” Ng says.
With an extensive online campaign, "Save the World's Saddest Dolphins" does have its non-cyberspace initiatives, as ACRES will also be embarking on a series of roadshows. The first roadshow is held at Far East Plaza (Level 2 Concourse) from 27 to 29 May at Far East Plaza, Level 2 Concourse.
To get involved:
- Visit the campaign website at www.saddestdolphins.com
- Support the campaign on Facebook
- Share the original campaign song with your friends
- Write a message or shoot a video about what you think of RWS's dolphin programme and send it to ACRES
- Write directly to RWS
Pictures from ACRES.