Lonely dolphin in abandoned aquarium in Japan will break your heart
The facility was closed in January. However, the 18-year-old female dolphin along with some other marine animals continue to remain at the aquarium
A bottlenose dolphin and nearly 50 penguins have been abandoned at a defunct aquarium in Japan for months due to lack of visitors. The plight of the marine animals has sparked protests, with animal rights activists and ordinary citizens alike calling for the animals to be saved.
The 18-year-old female bottlenose dolphin, nicknamed Honey, was captured in 2005 near Taiji, a western port town that has become notorious for its annual dolphin hunt that was featured in the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary 'The Cove', according to Daily Sabah.
The Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium in the city of Choshi in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, opened its doors in 1954. But visitors declined after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear crisis, and in January this year the facility was finally closed. However, Honey and 46 Humboldt penguins, along with hundreds of fish and reptiles, continue to remain at the aquarium.
Photos and video taken by activists in March and August from outside the park show Honey floating in a tiny pool in an eerily empty facility. In another picture, dust-covered penguins can be seen perched on a crumbling structure near a pile of debris.
The animals are reportedly still being fed regularly by a paid employee even after the facility shuttered. But activist groups, including the Dolphin Project, have called on the local government to save the creatures.
“The footage we have reviewed demonstrates the need to take action immediately in order to save dolphin Honey from a miserable death. The same is true for all of the abandoned animals at Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium,” Ric O’Barry, founder and director of Dolphin Project, told the media.
Honey was captured in 2005 during the annual dolphin drives in Taiji, where Japanese fishermen gather families of wild dolphins in a cove to be slaughtered for meat or sold to marine parks around the world, according to The Dodo.
"Honey is a symbol of both the problem of marine parks and Taiji's hunting practices," Akiko Mitsunobu, chief of aquarium issues for Animal Rights Centre, a local group, told Daily Sabah. "When we went to check on the facility, she was showing signs of stress, putting her head weakly in and out of the water."
A number of online petitions and campaigns to rescue Honey and her companions have been created since the release of the video from Dolphin Project, which itself has collected more than 36,000 signatures.
A petition on Change.org addressed to the Inubosaki Aquarium and the Chiba Prefectural Health and Welfare Department so far garnered over 66,000 signatures out of its 75,000 goal.