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Trainer: Transferred dolphins arrived safely, eating normally

Kai Mattson, a former trainer of the four dolphins that were stealthily transferred from the Särkänniemi dolphinarium in southern Finland to a zoo near Athens, Greece on Sunday, says that the dolphins have reached their destination safely and are already in the new tank they will call home.

kouluttaja ja delfiini altaan reunalla
A scene from the Attica Zoological Park in Greece in 2010. Image: Orestis Panagiotou / EPA

Finnish dolphin trainer Kai Mattson, who previously worked with the Särkänniemi dolphins in Tampere, reports that the dolphins arrived at their destination unharmed and have started life in their new tank at the Attica Zoological Park near Athens, Greece.

Mattsson said that Veera, Delfi, Leevi and Eevertti are together in the same tank, but are being kept separate from the other dolphins in the park for the time being.

“They have eaten, which is a good sign,” he said on Sunday.

Mattsson accompanied the dolphins to their plane in Finland, and said that their transfer went “as well as animal transport can go”, and that the dolphins were alert and animated during their trip. 

More room and staff

A press release was released Sunday by the Särkänniemi Amusement Park, the company that operated the dolphinarium until it decided to discontinue the facility in October 2015. It said the transfer to the new facility in Greece was the best, and only, option.

“This decision was the best alternative for Särkänniemi’s dolphins. The dolphins will now have bigger living spaces and a dedicated staff providing them with all the care that they need. We have heard a wide range of experts in this field and researched all possible alternatives. This location also received a unanimous and binding recommendation from the Species Committee of European Endangered Species Program (EEP)”, Särkänniemi’s CEO Miikka Seppälä said in the release.

The statement also reports that dolphins at the Attica Zoological Park participate in educational presentations, but that the park holds no performances solely for entertainment purposes. There are four other dolphins currently living at the park.

Finnish trainers on board

Seppälä said on Sunday that several trainers from Finland travelled to Greece with the dolphins, and other members of the Särkänniemi staff visited Greece before the transfer.

The Finnish trainers plan to stay with the dolphins for 2 to 3 months to help with their transition.

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