Saturday 07 December 2019 | 62

Letter from Ingrid Visser to Emmanuel Macron

Subject: Orca at Marineland Antibes, headed for China

Hr blog

Monsieur le Président de la République,

It has recently come to my attention that Parques Reunidos (a Spanish based company who owns more than 60 amusement parks around the world, including Marineland Antibes), is in the process of trying to move their orca (Orcinus orca) from France to a facility in China. It is unclear at this stage which facility in China, but given that Parques Reunidos also owns parks in China, it is likely that it would be an internal company transfer.

I have visited Marineland Antibes and seen the poor state of the orca, in particular Inouk the adult male. Based on my observations, I have filed a report with the NGO One Voice, the animal welfare advocate group based in France. I have also visited a number of facilities who hold cetaceans (whales, dolphins & porpoises) captive in China and I found the conditions there to be worse than those at Marineland Antibes. For example, I attach to this letter series of photographs illustrating just some of the issues. One shows a number of dead fish stuck on the top of the grill in the floor of the orca tank, indicative of either poor hygiene, poor feeding, or abnormal behaviours of the orca (or a combination of all of these). Regurgitation, which may be the source of these dead fish, has documented by SeaWorld to be a sign of stress in captive cetaceans. In the same Chinese facility I have documented orca with red eyes from the poor water quality and orca with scars that they have inflicted on themselves against some aspect of the tanks that has been poorly designed. I have seen bruising on the chins of some of the orca, from consistently banging their heads on the concrete.

It is also worth noting that there are no animal welfare laws in China that provide even the smallest level of protection for any cetaceans held captive in that country. At the moment, although the conditions are not good for the orca at Marineland Antibes, at least they can be monitored by NGO groups and they have some level of protection with French and EU laws.

Once in China the animals can (and likely will) be bred – for trade between facilities in the country. There are now more than 70 facilities which have been built for the keeping of cetaceans – that is to have them on public display and in circus-like shows. You may be aware of the recent situation in Russia where 10 orca and 90 beluga, which were captured for the Chinese aquarium market from the Sea of Okhotsk, have now been released at the demand of the public and a ruling by President Putin. I was one of the few scientists granted access to that facility and saw how poor the conditions were for the orca who had been pre-purchased by the Chinese facilities. Together with my colleagues we reported on the situation there and recommended that the animals be returned to the ocean. This was completed just a few weeks ago, but now that this source has been closed off, the Chinese are actively seeking orca from facilities which already hold them captive.

It is clear that the moving of any cetacean from France into China will circumvent any oversight and also help any company owning these animals from scrutiny by advocate groups and the Government. I recommend that you read the reports by the China Cetacean Alliance1 about the situations and the abysmal conditions that cetaceans face there.

I respectfully request, as a cetacean biologist, scientist and as someone who has seen the poor welfare conditions that abound in China’s aquariums to impose a ban on the export of any orca held in France, in order to ensure that they continue to receive the protections afforded them by your laws and the EU laws. Naturally, I would be happy to discuss the situation further with you, if you have any questions,

Respectfully

Dr Ingrid N. Visser (PhD).

1- http://chinacetaceanalliance.org/ for individual park details and http://chinacetaceanalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/19-CCA-Report-English-FINAL.pdfwp-content/uploads/2019/06/19-CCA-Report-English-FINAL.pdf for an overview report.

Hr blog

In the subject

Save our orcas! A sanctuary, not China!
Whale Prison: Three New Orcas have been Released

Comments 62

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

Velasco Consuelo serena | Thursday 16 January 2020

Laissez-les vivre libres.

Amino10 | Sunday 05 January 2020

Laissez-les vivre libres, comme nous. Ce ne sont pas des criminels qui méritent d'être en prison !

Nadia | Thursday 02 January 2020

All wildlife belong in their natural habitat, NOT IN AQUARIUM PRISONS FOR PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT!

Joce38 | Sunday 22 December 2019

Sauvons-les ces pauvres orques...On leur doit bien cela!
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