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Dolphins confiscated from Melka hotel

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Two dolphins who for years, were kept captive in chlorinated swimming pools and forced to interact with paying tourists are now swimming in natural seawater. Yesterday Westerlaken Foundation assisted Jakarta Animal Aid Network, Ric O'Barry Dolphin project and BKSDA in the rescue of Rainbow and Rocky, two captive dolphins in Melka Resort.


Day after day, week after week and month after month, five bottlenose dolphins were exploited for profit at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in Lovina, north Bali, Indonesia. The mammals were forced to perform under deplorable conditions, doing tricks, manhandled by tourists in swim-with-dolphins sessions and used in so-called “dolphin therapy” programs. Other animals formed a mini zoo inside the hotel, held in darkness in concrete and steel cages.

After receiving several complaints about the Melka Excelsior Hotel, the Central Jakarta Forestry Department asked the team of Jakarta Animal Aid Netwok to investigate. Upon reviewing the report, Ms. Indra, Director of Biodiversity Conservation and Directorate General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry called for the immediate evacuation of all the animals. These included: three saltwater crocodiles, two leaf monkeys, several birds, snakes and porcupines, along with the five bottlenose dolphins. Sadly, on August 3, just days before the rescue, one of the dolphins died.


The day before the animals were to be confiscated, a team of 15 people, including Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project, four veterinarians (one of which was a marine mammal expert),  the Central Jakarta Forestry Department, Bali Police Department, biologists and film makers conducted a health check of all the animals. Preparations were also made for their evacuation, including microchip tagging, an important step to ensure the mammals wouldn’t be recaptured.

The following day, four trucks emptied the Melka Excelsior Hotel of wildlife. The dolphins were brought to spare sea pens at Dolphin Lodge Bali where they will begin their rehabilitation and evaluation for possible release. The other animals were brought to the Bali Zoo along with the Safari Park in Bali, the two facilities acting as halfway homes.

The dolphins were trucked five hours before being released into the sea pen.

Almost immediately, the team observed the dolphins’ joy as they swam in the absence of concrete walls. It was the first time they would experience the natural rhythms of the sea since they were captured, and their exhilaration was truly obvious. One of the mammals even began chasing fish! 

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