Every Dutch person has something “made in China”, but one zoo in China may soon have dolphins swimming from “made in the Netherlands”. The Harderwijk Dolfinarium’s plan to sell eight dolphins to the Hainan Ocean Paradise turns out to be controversial, but also unique.
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Wynke Shaw, director of the Dutch Zoological Society, says most Dutch zoo exchanges take place within Europe. “And sometimes with America, Australia or Singapore. The only exchange with China is the government-organized education centers.” Think of the pandas at the Ouwehands Zoo, which are rented from the Chinese government.
According to Schoo, the zoos that are exchanged are members of a partnership. In Europe it is called EAZA. “If you want to be an EAZA member, you will be tested. For quality gardening and animal welfare at the highest possible level.” She points out that she does not know what is the case in China.
The Dolfinarium is no longer a member of the Dutch Zoo Association. The following statement can be read on the website: “A further focus on cooperation with the European Aquatic Mammal Association has been chosen due to the knowledge and experience, as well as the stringent regulations in the field of marine mammals in particular.”
The controversy surrounding the Dolfinarium was specifically about animal welfare. In April, it promised to stop the breeding program and stop marine mammals from scams. But with the dolphins sold out, critics fear the problem will literally be solved.
So the Animal Party submitted parliamentary questions on Wednesday, and the Netherlands’ World Animal Protection Agency (WPA) made their voice heard loudly and called on the government to halt exports. However, inquiries at the Department of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality show that the government is already involved in the Dolfinarium plan.
See also: Dolphinarium is becoming more suitable for animals; Walruses, dolphins, bottlenose, and sea lions
You can’t just sell an exotic animal. A spokesperson for the zoo said: “When the zoo gives up the animals, it must (as a condition of the zoo permit) ensure that the animals are also taken care of according to certain criteria at the new site.”
In addition, you must comply with an international agreement, the so-called CITES. If this happens, the Dutch Enterprise Agency will issue an export license. “I am convinced enough that the zoo meets Dutch standards and that there is adequate supervision,” the spokesperson said.
It’s not entirely certain if the one-off sale will happen, but it sure will be more than just a gust in a glass of water.
The Dolphinarium was not available for comment.