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Pressure builds to shutter Tampere dolphinarium

The struggle to shut down the dolphinarium at Tampere’s Särkänniemi theme park has taken on an international dimension. A  United States expert on the marine mammals has entered the fray, calling for the closure of facilities in Sweden and Finland.

Delfiinejä Särkänniemen delfinaariossa Tampereella. Kuva on otettu vuonna 2010.
Campaigners are calling for an end to dolphin captivity at Tampere's Särkänniemi theme park. Image: Mika Kanerva / Yle

The drive for the dolphin park to be shuttered gathered steam following a proposal in May by Tampere city councilors. In the latest turn, the animal rights group Justice for Animals (Oikeutta eläimille) has enlisted the support of dolphin expert and former trainer Ric O’Barry in an effort to free the dolphins currently being held in captivity in Tampere’s Särkänniemi theme park.

Perhaps best known for his work training the animal star of the hit US family television series Flipper, O’Barry called for the closure of the Tamper dolphinarium in a statement by Justice for Animals.

“I have decades of experience working with dolphins. My experiences have reinforced my belief that dolphins should not be held in captivity. The Särkänniemi dolphinarium must be closed,” O’Barry said in the statement.

Campaign ongoing to close Swedish facility

O’Barry is also campaigning for officials to bolt the gates of a similar facility in Sweden, at the Kolmården Wildlife Park. Supporters of the move to end dolphin captivity have organised a demonstration to take place at the Swedish zoo on July 5. Sweden’s only dolphinarium opened in 1969 and is currently home to 10 of the marine mammals.

The group Justice for Animals said it has organised a petition to gather wider support to close the Tampere facility.

“Nowadays dolphins are considered to be conscious and intelligent animals and there are still discussions ongoing about closing dolphinariums in the world. We in Finland should also consider whether it’s acceptable to keep wild marine animals in captivity,” said the organisation’s Krista Muurimaa.

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