MANILA, Philippines—Wen Wen, one of 25 dolphins transferred from Subic in the Philippines to a Singapore oceanarium despite protests from activists, died during its flight to the city-state on Thursday, the resort said.
The male dolphin, aged about 10, died suddenly less than an hour before the flight from the Philippines landed, a Marine Life Park spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson of the park—which opened to the public for the first time earlier
Thursday and is part of the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) casino—said Wen Wen appeared fine when medically examined before the flight.
“We are deeply saddened… he will be sorely missed,” the spokesperson said.
He confirmed that the other 24 bottle-nose dolphins had arrived and were acclimatizing to their new home.
“No effort or resources will be spared in ensuring the health and well-being of our dolphins and all marine animals at Marine Life Park,” the statement said.
Wen Wen is the third dolphin to die out of 27 which RWS acquired from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific between 2008 and 2009.
Wildlife activists in the Philippines, however, are mad that the firm was able to ferry out the dolphins despite an ongoing court case and said Resorts World Sentosa and the government could expect a new round of lawsuits against them.
Trixie Concepcion of the Earth Island Institute decried the exportation of the dolphins from Subic to Singapore as “blatant disregard of Philippine laws and courts.”
She pointed out that a Quezon City court was still hearing their appeal seeking the extension of a temporary environment protection order (Tepo).
“And yet they flew the dolphins out of the country, it is a disrespect of our processes… the status quo should have been observed,” she said in an interview on Friday.
Concepcion pointed out that Wen-wen’s death only supports their argument that wild animals should not be transported.
“That is very stressful to the wild animals. And they die in the end,” she said.
Even though the dolphin died outside the country, Concepcion said they will file criminal charges under the Animal Welfare Act.
The animal welfare advocate said they will also pursue contempt charges against the government and Resorts World Sentosa.
“We are also contemplating a case before the Ombudsman against the government for obstruction of justice,” she said.
The activists had filed a lawsuit last month to stop the firm from taking the dolphins out of Subic, were they were kept and trained. They said the dolphins’ capture violated an international treaty on the trade in endangered animals and plants.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 101 is hearing a case that the Philippine Animal Welfare Society and other groups filed against the Resorts World Sentosa and other government agencies seeking to stop the export of the dolphins.
The dolphins originally came from the Solomon Islands and were cared for in Subic before they were brought to Singapore.
Last month, the court issued a Tepo stopping the export of the dolphins but this order was only valid for 72 hours. The court did not extend the Tepo but is hearing the advocates’ appeal for its extension.
The first batch of 11 dolphins was reportedly transported on Nov. 19. The animal welfare advocates filed an urgent motion the following day. With a report from Agence France-Presse