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Tampere dolphinarium gets thumbs down award from animal rights group

The city of Tampere has become the only Finnish body to have received an award for its perceived poor animal rights record from the animal rights group Animalia. Each year the NGO confers the award in areas where it would like to see more animal-friendly actions. Tampere received the Anti Animalia award in 1999 -- and in 2014 -- for failing to shut down its controversial dolphinarium.

Delfiini katselee kohti.
Image: Marjut Suomi / Yle

The animal rights group Animalia handed out its 2014 Anti Animalia award to the city of Tampere for its reluctance to even investigate the possibility of shuttering its dolphinarium. Back in 1999 the city received the award for the very same reason. Animalia has been distributing the dubious honour since 1987.

In September the city council voted to overturn a motion calling for a probe into the option of closing the facility.

“The future of the Särkänniemi dolphinarium has been discussed in Tampere. It’s very unfortunate that the city council was unwilling to even enquire into closing down the dolphinarium. And it’s sad that that the political discussion on the matter was for the most part so distasteful,” said Animalia chief executive Salla Tuomivaara.

Animalia to step up campaigning

The group is set to up the ante in Tampere, and will be opening a local chapter in October. It has also established a “whale team” which will monitor the local and international discourse about whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The future of the Särkänniemi dolphinarium was the subject of much heated discussion during the course of the year as many weighed in on the subject of keeping dolphins in captivity. And at the end of August, Näsi, a 35-year old bottle-nose dolphin resident of the facility passed away after suffering from a chronic liver complaint.

Then Environment Minister Ville Niinistö said that while he found the idea of keeping dolphins in captivity was “problematic”, the fate of the park should be left to local rather than central government officials.

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