The Dolphin Park in the southern province of Kaş, which received strong criticism from NGOs for using the animals for show, was finally closed
Two dolphins kept in captivity in a dolphin park in the southern province of Antalya’s Kaş town were transferred on April 25 to the Moonlight Dolphinarium in Kemer following an outcry over their treatment. The facility is being dismantled gradually after the transfer of the dolphins.
The dolphins were previously brought to Kaş for rehabilitation from the Aegean province of Muğla’s Bodrum town but were in fact kept at the center that used the animals for entertainment.
Under the leadership of renowned Turkish writer Buket Uzuner, 20,000 signatures have been collected through the petition website Change.org against the dolphin park in Kaş, which generated strong reactions and protests in Turkey and around the world, and was sealed twice for accepting customers without a license. The signatures were presented to the Kaş Municipality and Kaş District Governorate by the non-governmental organizations, Freedom for Dolphins Platform and WWF-Turkey, which supported the campaign.
During the presentation, Uzuner said they wanted to see Kaş as a dolphin paradise and that the mayor should not give approval to dolphin parks.
No dolphin in captivity
According to a written statement made by the Freedom for Dolphins Platform, the dolphin park was closed de facto and there were no dolphins in captivity in Kaş. But those who support the freedom of dolphins still continue their struggle. Non-governmental organizations, which mobilized to track dolphins upon warnings, are worried about the health of the creatures. The organizations will once again apply to official institutes for the two dolphins, which were brought to Kemer to be inspected by a dolphin specialist veterinarian and taken under protection with legal arrangements.
Kaş Underwater Association (KASAD) member Belma Tosun said that Kaş Dolphin Park officials had applied to the municipality to get work permits but they were refused. “Then they filed a suit against the municipality. The fact that they sent the dolphins to another place before the result of the judiciary process shows that they are not hopeful for Kaş anymore. This is a pleasing development. We hope that this process will be an example for other Turkish cities that have dolphin parks. We are ready to support NGOs in these regions.”
Speaker of the platform, Derya Özkan, who first got the notice about two captured dolphins in Kaş two years ago and initiated the process, said that the petition campaign on the website Change.org was very useful. “From now on we will pay attention to other dolphin parks in Turkey until all dolphins in captivity return to the seas and new legal provisions are made preventing the opening of new dolphin parks.”