Angel, the albino calf whom was captured during this years’ Taiji dolphin drive is alive, but living in a threatening environment in The Taiji Whale Museum. After rumors circulated of Angel’s death, Dolphin Project founder Ric O’Barry, who was featured in the award winning Documentary “The Cove,” went undercover to the museum to see for himself.
O’Barry had to disguise himself as a Japanese tourist in order to sneak in undetected, so that he could take photos and video footage of the dolphin. In blatant violation of Article 21 of the Japanese constitution, the museum will not allow Westerners in to see the dolphins out of fear of negative publicity.
Apparently, Angel is alive and eating from her trainers. She seems to be of average weight and in good health, wrote O’Barry on his Dolphin Project blog. Also, he speculates that although the museum claims that she is deaf and blind, judging from her movement in the tank, she appears to have some sight. He is unsure, however, whether or not she can hear. He thinks that she may be keeping her eyes closed because of the overpowering smell of chlorine throughout the museum.
Angel still has bruises on “both sides of her body in the middle section below the dorsal fin,” which were most likely caused by “rough handling during capture,” said O’Barry. She is being held captive in a tiny overcrowded tank with four stripped and one spotted dolphin, all caught during the drive hunts. All of the dolphins “have a high level of stress, having lost their freedom and their pod-mates,” added O’Barry.
Angel is also suffering from harassment by two of the male stripped dolphins sharing the same tank. O’Barry says that after observing them closely, “it becomes obvious that she is constantly harassed and bullied.” He claims that “[s]he never initiates contact with any of the others, She seems to avoid them, but that is almost impossible in the small space she is forced to live in. She can’t seem to find any peace in this abusive environment. There is no place she can go to get away from the two males.”
Angel is like scores of other calves sacrificed in the annual Japanese dolphin hunt off the east coast of a nation that slaughters an estimated 20,000 of these marine mammals every year. Very few are spared, destined to live in captivity in aquariums and amusement parks around the world.
Although Angel has won the hearts of millions of people who know her sad story, she is only one of many dolphins being held at The Taiji Whale Museum. She is only more valuable because she is a pure white albino, but she is not of greater importance than the others. None of the dolphins should be held in captivity. All were separated from their families and loved ones, and all will live a life of anxiety, loneliness and torment. For this baby albino dolphin, still nursing, yet ripped from her mother in the killing coves of Taiji, Japan, and others whom have suffered similar fates, there can be no happy ending.
Please send a letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan asking him to allow O’Barry’s Dolphin Project team relocate Angel to a better environment, and to end the dolphin hunts in Taiji permanently. Click here to send your letter.
Photo Credit: courtesy of Karla Sanjur, Save Japan Dolphins, Earth Island Institute.