• Oh. You thought this was another post about Marineland of Canada. Ha! It’s not.
  • A joint parliamentary committee in France, comprised of members of both the National Assembly and the Senate, has just approved a new animal welfare law that will end the holding of cetaceans in France within five years.
  • The agreement also calls for the end of “the commercial exploitation of wild animals” by ending breeding within two years and their presence within traveling circuses within seven years.
  • On September 29, 2020, announcing her proposed plan, Barbara Pompili, Minister for the Ecological Transition of France, said: “It will be faster for the 4 orcas that remain in captivity in France than for the dolphins, for which we will probably need 7 to 10 years to prepare the rest, and in particular to identify future solutions for the remaining animals.” That timeline appears to have been pushed up to the five year target during committee deliberations.
  • This is not set in stone. It still must be voted on by the full Assembly and Senate on November 15
  • This is not set in stone. As we’ve seen before with animal welfare law in France, if the government changes, the policy will change. France is six months away (April 10, 2022) from the first round of its next Presidential election and two of the frontrunners, Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, are extreme right-wing candidates. Legislative elections will follow shortly after.
  • Looking over the new proposed law, I could not locate any prohibitions on export of cetaceans.
  • Until early this year, France had four operating cetacean facilities.
  • Parc Asterix discontinued its longstanding dolphin show in January. Two of its dolphins were relocated to Kolmården Wildlife Park in Kolmården, Sweden, three to MundoMar, a marine life park in Benidorm, Spain, two to L’Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain, and the remaining dolphin was euthanized.
  • It’s my understanding that Vancouver Aquarium, now owned by Herschend Family Entertainment, is no longer involved in the management of L’Oceanografic.
  • So what about the other three operations?
  • One is Planète Sauvage, a wildlife safari park 30 minutes southwest of Nantes. The park is owned by Groupe Looping, a French-based theme park company which owns parks and aquariums in France, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. According to Ceta-Base, there are nine dolphins at this facility.
  • In Moorea, French Polynesia, there are two dolphins at the Moorea Dolphin Center, located at the luxury InterContinental Moorea Resort. One of the Center’s three dolphins was found dead on the morning of October 8, 2020.
  • On May 28, 2020, the resort announced it was closing permanently due to continued lack of tourism amid the COVID pandemic and international travel restrictions. The Dolphin Center, however, continues to operate on the resort’s property.
  • Moorea Dolphin Center, which started as a Dolpin Quest location, is directly tied to Te mana o te moana, a marine conservation and education organization whose patron is Ocean Futures Society President Jean-Michel Cousteau. Prior to the pandemic, a substantial amount of funding for the nonprofit came from swim with dolphin sales at the Dolphin Center.
  • Because French Polynesia is a territory, it will not be directly impacted by the new legislation, but the French legislation could influence French Polynesia to pass similar measures.
  • That leaves Marineland Antibes, home of dolphins, polar bears, and orcas.
  • Earlier this year, Parques Reunidos, the owner of Marineland, agreed to sell the Miami Seaquarium, which it had acquired in 2014, to The Dolphin Company. On the one hand, it makes sense considering the extended closures to the Florida park as a result of hurricanes and COVID, and the reallocation of improvement and expansion funds from the Florida park to the French park after the latter was devastated by a flash flood in 2015.
  • But now, my conspiracy wheels are rolling. What if…..?
  • What if, following Pompili’s proposal in Sept 2020, the management realized that the writing was on the wall?
  • What if they decided to take preemptive action to offload their orcas?
  • What if the sale of the Miami Seaquarium was one such action?
  • What if they had purchased the Miami Seaquarium with the concept of creating an international chain of Marineland parks to compete with the SeaWorld brand? (It’s true, but that’s a story for another time)
  • What if they sold or just handed over Shouka to SeaWorld?
  • Four orcas left in France. Where will they go?
  • Canada? HA!
  • California? HA!
  • The rest of the US? Conceivably to a SeaWorld park, but it’s doubtful that the company wants new orcas as it’s trying to figure out what to do with the ones it currently has.
  • Spain? Sure. Why not? A more diversified stock from which Morgan can have babies.
  • North Korea? OK. They imported Dennis Rodman once and they do have a dolphinarium designed for Glorious Leader.
  • Japan? Perhaps
  • Russia? Unless the orcas are split between facilities internationally, I’m not certain the Moskvarium can house all four orcas comfortably along with the three already there. And since nothing’s happened with the gigantic oceanarium announced a number of years back for St. Petersburg, count that out as well.
  • China? China….China…..China…..China……China….
  • A whale sanctuary? There’s five, maybe six years to get a working one established. Key to this will be the cooperation of the orcas’ owners. Without a fully built and operational sanctuary and without Parques’ cooperation, it’s likely going to be……China.

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