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RWS fireworks caused stress to dolphins: ACRES

SINGAPORE - Animal welfare group ACRES has filed an official request with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to investigate possible animal cruelty by Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) staging of a fireworks display near its dolphin enclosure on its opening nights in December.

SINGAPORE - Animal welfare group ACRES has filed an official request with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to investigate possible animal cruelty by Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) staging of a fireworks display near its dolphin enclosure on its opening nights in December.

The group’s move comes after it asked but failed to convince RWS not to hold the 12-minute fireworks displays near to the enclosures of the 24 dolphins in the IR’s oceanarium on Dec 7 and 8 last year. It had also gone to the AVA prior to RWS’ opening, although the authorities found that nothing amiss with the dolphins during a visit last month.

In a press statement yesterday, ACRES’ chief executive Louis Ng said: “ACRES is concerned that the dolphins may be terrified by, or suffer, as a result of fireworks displays.”

The group pointed out that scientific research shows that noise causes distress to cetaceans, a group of marine mammals with very sensitive hearing, including dolphins, whales and porpoises.

Mr Ng expressed doubt that the dolphins were unaffected by the fireworks. “The enclosures are open air, so there is no way the facility could have prevented causing stress to the dolphins,” he said.

In response to TODAY’s queries, RWS asserted that it places “high priority” on the animals in its Marine Life Park. The park facility is also designed such that other resort operations will not adversely affect the animals’ welfare, it added.

“Our dolphins are currently doing well at the park. We place the highest priority on the health and comfort of all our animals, and would never compromise their well-being in any way,” said a park spokesperson.

An AVA spokesperson said it will continue to monitor the well-being of the dolphins in RWS.

This is the latest in a string of protests by ACRES against RWS’ decision to bring in the dolphins which were caught off the Solomon Islands. For instance, it worked closely with Philippine non-governmental organisations to block the export of the dolphins — the animals were kept and trained at Subic Bay, Philippines — to Singapore last year.

In November, the third of the 27 dolphins initially caught en-route here. KELLY NG

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