Monday 07 November 2016 | 80

Aïcko, the forgotten baby

Aïcko, the forgotten baby

Mis à jour le 17 July 2018

At Planète Sauvage, Aïcko is withering away. Invited to visit by One Voice, Dr Naomi Rose wrote in her report following her visit on the 29th of October: "I have never observed such an underweight dolphin in captivity in my career". One Voice will be lodging an additional complaint for the little Aïcko.

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Latest news: Aicko is no longer. Following the little dolphin's death on the 9th of November, One Voice has asked the prefect to take up this case.For more information please see our press release concerning Aicko.

The little baby that everyone loved

"He's like a little shrimp, he seems so small and fragile next to his mother and godmother. Aïcko was born on Saturday and has since been stretching his fins in the Park Asterix pools. He weighs a tiny 12kg, compared to his parents, the pretty Aya, 14, and the seducer Guama, who weigh 180kg". Guama is also Galéo's father. Aïcko can count on his mother hen, Aya, and on Beauty, his elderly Godmother of 35 years, to protect him from danger: "They follow his every move. Beauty swims alongside between him and the pool edge to avoid him hurting himself on the pool-sides, and the minute there is any sign of aggression in the pool, Aya quickly rushes to his other side so that he can't get hit by the other dolphins", explains Christel, his keeper. (1)

This was Aïcko's birth announcement (Aïcko means "Little Love" in Japanese) in August 2010. However, to create space and to avoid "that the young males breed with their mother and / or their sisters" as admits Park Asterix, Aïcko was sold along with his half-brother, Galéo, to Planète Sauvage in January 2015 (at sea, no dolphin would dare violate its parents!). Without his pretty mother or Godmother to protect him, he has to fend for himself in 'Scarface' Péos's territory. Péos is a large aggressive male who also suffered some serious traumas during his childhood, himself a victim of his past.

Aïcko sinks into his own despair

This is the state in which Dr. Rose has found him, after having visited Marine City on the 29th of October with One Voice. She discovered a worryingly thin Aïcko. "I have never observed such an underweight dolphin in captivity in my career".

Like Galéo a few months ago, Aïcko is presenting signs of serious malnutrition, and open deep raked bite-marks can be seen on his body. With the exception of the two new-borns, Aïcko is the youngest dolphin in the park. Not yet six, he has been plunged into the lowest ranks of the fierce hierarchy that reigns at Planète Sauvage. In the wild, subordinate dolphins are able to flee from aggressive interactions with older individuals. The scars on wild dolphin's bodies are much less serious marks from child-play. It's nothing like that in captivity, where insanity reigns in a ridiculously tiny closed world.

During the noisy show, far removed from their natural environment, Aïcko disobeys or throws himself at his half-brother who swims with a trainer. His behaviour indicates his extreme confusion and stress. Perhaps he will survive, but it is upsetting to have to drag a dolphinarium through justice to ensure that it correctly looks after its life-timers.

Dr. Ingrid Visser's visit seems, however, to have had an effect. Galéo is doing a bit better, he has gained some weight and his wounds are healing. But what an awful life! It is not normal, asserts Naomi Rose, that the park leaves junior dolphins to the mercy of aggressive adults in this way.

Stop the babies!

Dr. Rose is also worried about what the future holds for Amani and Nouma, the two young males born at the end of the summer. What do they think of the world, shut up day after day with their terrified mothers, whilst Péos angrily clacks his teeth in front of the door that separates them from the main pool? The walls of the maternity pool where they are being raised are becoming covered with black algae, being left to grow on a layer of excrement, to reduce reflection from the sun. Why not provide shade to all of them using just a simple canopy? Captive dolphins suffer from UV overexposure as a result of the unnatural amount of time spent near the surface of the water.

Naomi Rose concludes that the two young dolphins cannot develop normally in this pool, and Planète Sauvage should put an end to the reproduction programme. But a new baby means more clients! So tough luck if the "little shrimps", so popular when they are newborns, become the whipping boys for the other dolphins who have been driven crazy by captivity and boredom! Pity has no place here.

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Naomi Rose The holder of a doctorate in animal biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Naomi Rose is an international expert in the domain of captive marine mammals. The author of more than 30 scientific peer-reviewed articles, as well as many articles and chapters in several books, she has testified four times before the United States congress on issues varying from polar bear sports hunting, the welfare of captive marine animals and the impact of human-caused noise on marine mammals. Doctor Rose has been a member of the International Whaling Commission since the year 2000, in which she participates in the sub-committee on the observation of whales and in a permanent workgroup which considers the environmental issues. After having worked over the last 20 years defending marine mammals at the International Humane Society, for whom she wrote an enlightening report "The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity" (2), she is currently working at the Animal Welfare Institute. For this organisation, she has recently participated in negotiations with SeaWorld to end Orca breeding, and together with Dr. Lori Marino, she is preparing to open a rehabilitation centre for captive cetaceans with the Whale Sanctuary Project (3). Naomi Rose is an essential player in the European coalition, Dolphinaria-Free Europe, of which One Voice is a member.


Yvon Godefroid
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In the subject

The court prohibit Marineland from relocating the orcas before the end of the independent assessment Moana has just died in the chlorinated Marineland prison, the only place he has seen in his twelve years of life. One Voice is going to court again

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