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Tried to Send Them to Rehab. But they Said 'No, No, No.'

Forestry Minister Urged to Take Urgent Action as Controversy Grows Over Sudden Kidnapping of Two Captive Dolphins Destined for Rehab Center From Bali Restaurant

(2/25/2013) [A Digitaljournal.com report by Elizabeth Batt] says that the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) has reported that the two dolphins held illegally at a Bali restaurant and slated for relocation to a new dolphin rehabilitation center have been kidnapped.

As reported by Balidiscovery.com [Dolphins on the Menu], two dolphin, held illegally at the Akame Restaurant in Benoa Harbor, Bali, were the subject of a personal inspection visit conducted by Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Zulkifli Hasan. Following that visit on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, Zulkilfi ordered that the animals be moved to a new rehabilitation center now established at Karimunjawa Island.

A rescue team from JAAN on standby in Bali to assist in moving the dolphins discovered that the two animals had been clandestinely removed on February 23, 2013.

The two dolphins were slated to be the first inhabitants of the Karimunjawa Dolphin Rehabilitation Center, to be followed by other captive dolphins now working at traveling dolphin circuses, hotels - including a hotel in North Bali and other locations. The plan to eliminate captive dolphin exhibitions in Indonesia is part of a five-year internationally supported plan covered in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) intended to reintroduce more than 70 captive dolphins back into the oceans.

The rehabilitation pen in Karimunjawa where the captive dolphins were to be rehabilitated before eventual release into the oceans was built at a cost of US$50,000 and is believed to be the world’s largest dolphin enclosure.

The “kidnapped” dolphins from the Akame Restaurant were two males named Wayan and Made.

According to JAAN,  "The dolphins are now currently on a truck, to be transported inhumanely over 20 hours or more to be put in a condition even worse than that noted by the Minister as being 'cruel and unacceptable'."

JAAN suggests the marine mammals are destined for Weleri, Central Java, the headquarters for traveling dolphin circus and where various documents indicate dolphins are kept and sold for commercial purposes.

The report added, "It appears the public announcements and promises provided by the Minister of Forestry, Minister Zulkilfi Hasan may have been lip service.

Jann said that the Minister had confirmed that "The Dolphins were being kept and commercially exploited illegally and that he would himself ensure the facility was closed down and the dolphins delivered immediately to a rehabilitation center that has been specifically designed for their rehabilitation, care, and release back into their natural habitat.”

In the ten days since the Minister’s visit, the Akame Restaurant reportedly continued to hold commercial dolphin shows, which resulted in public protests at the restaurant on February 22, 2013, the day before the dolphins were taken away.

"This transport should not have been allowed," JAAN said. "The transportation of these animals overland, and across public ferries, in inadequate trucks with inadequate health and safety considerations, back to their original captive location where they were sold illegally, is in breach of all commitments, laws, and regulations," the Network explained.

It also remains something of a mystery how the animals made it through quarrantine controls at the ferry crossing from Bali to Java when provincial law strictly prohibits the import and export of mamals.

"Only three hours and we would have brought the animals home," said JAAN, "to be nursed and released to their families and their natural environment, where they so rightfully belong. The current transport violates national, international laws, regulations, by-laws, and treaties," they added, "and must be stopped immediately."

JAAN and the Dolphin project have urgently called on the Forestry Minister asking to stop the ship and rescue the two dolphins.


Upate 

According to a printed article in the Bali Daily (The Jakarta Post) on February 25, 2013,  Ade Kusmane, a senior trainer at Akame Dolphin Bay Restaurant denies the two dolphins have left the venue. He said he was still waiting for action from Ministry staff to transport the dolphins. However, he added, "they will likely be transported to Weleri, as the ministry has said that the rehabilitation center in Karimun Jawa is unfit."

[Twitter Account for Indonesian Minister of Forestry]