Open letter asks government to drop dolphinarium plans

POSTED: 05/3/11 11:49 AM

Vice PM Heyliger maintains: “There are no plans”

St. Maarten – In spite of repeated statements by Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger that there are no plans on the works to build a dolphinarium in St. Maarten, animal rights activist keep hammering on the subject.

The Dutch foundation for the protection of Fish wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger this weekend that created the impression that there are definite plans on the table for a dolphinarium and a Swim-With-dolphins project.

“We would like to convey our deep regrets about your plans, the foundation’s secretary, Marijke Santen, writes in the letter, that we publish today. “we would like to bring to your attention that worldwide, the aversion towards dolphinariums is growing.”

The letter goes on to describe that captivity is torture for dolphins, also because the animals are used to cover “between 50 and 100 kilometers a day, and spend the best part of their day under water looking for food.”

The foundation pleads with th3 government of St. Maarten “not to add the animal unfriendly business of creating a dolphinarium.”

The letter follows on the heels of an equally open letter by local animal rights activist Mercedes de Windt, who stipulated that a letter she addressed to Vice PM Heyliger on January 23 was still awaiting an answer by April 20.
De Windt asked Minister Heyliger whether it is correct that royal Caribbean cruises is preparing plans for a dolphinarium. She also inquired about plans for a bid development with pools for dolphins, and for plans to import 18 dolphins to St. Maarten.

But Minister Heyliger, as recently as last week, maintains that there are no concrete plans for a dolphinarium, and that no request for a business permit is in the pipeline. He confirmed however, that there are always foreign investors interested in opportunities in St. Maarten.

The petition web site care2 carries a petition to stop the construction of a dolphinarium in St. Maarten. The goal of the petitioners, initiated by dolphin defenders St. Maarten, is to collect 10,000 signatures. As of yesterday afternoon, the petition had the support of 2,767 dolphin-lovers.


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