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Tampere dolphinarium favourite Näsi passes away

The 35-year-old female bottle-nose dolphin was described by her custodians as the most docile and teachable of the Särkänniemi pod. Näsi suffered from a chronic liver complaint. Discussion surrounding the ethical basis of keeping dolphins in captivity has been widespread.

Särkänniemen Näsi-delfiini.
Näsi was put down after complications from a liver disease. Image: Särkänniemen Elämyspuisto

Näsi hailed from the Gulf of Mexico and the shores of Florida, from whence she was brought in 1985 to the then newly-established dolphinarium at Särkänniemi amusement park, Tampere. Näsi had been suffering from a liver disease that was first diagnosed in 2008, but took a turn for the worse during July.

Näsi’s trainers and custodians describe her as a hard-working and calm animal, who was perhaps the most apt to learn new tricks of the original five members of Särkänniemi’s pod of dolphins. The other dolphins still at the amusement park are Veera, Delfi, Eevertti and Leevi – a descendant of the deceased Näsi.

Dolphin captivity problematic

Public discussion has centred on potentially shutting down dolphinariums like the one at Tampere. Detractors of dolphin captivity say that the animals, who are used to the wide open sea and ocean spaces where they were born, suffer unduly in closed pools.

In July, Environment Minister Ville Niinistö weighed in on the debate over whether the dolphin enclosure in Tampere’s Särkänniemi theme park should be closed down, saying he finds the idea of keeping dolphins in captivity “problematic”.

However he added that the future of the attraction, which has come under criticism from local politicians and international animal-rights campaigners, should be a decision for the municipality rather than central government.

”Nowadays we are increasingly aware that animals should be allowed to engage in the behaviour that’s typical for their species,” the Green Party leader said. “Marine mammals such as dolphins are incredibly intelligent animals who in the wild live in large, open areas, which they need for their wellbeing.”

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