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RWS' top man defends dolphin plan

He said if the dolphins were endangered, the Government would not have allowed them to be imported. -ST

Mon, Dec 10, 2012
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - RESORTS World Sentosa's (RWS) head honcho defended its decision to have dolphins at its marine park, by emphasising that the species is not endangered and that the company was fulfilling the terms of its proposal.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Genting Group, RWS' parent company, said at a press conference on Friday that if the bottlenose dolphins were endangered, the Government would not have allowed them to be imported.

"What we are doing here is part of our proposal, which the Singapore Government will expect us to fulfil," he said. "We are continuing with our commitment to deliver the best oceanarium in the world. We want it to be enjoyed by everyone."

He added that the importation of dolphins was strictly within the law.

RWS' plans to have dolphins at its recently opened Marine Life Park have been dogged by controversy. Animal rights groups such as Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had called for RWS to abort its plans for the dolphins as early as 2009.

The calls grew louder in 2010, when two dolphins died at a holding area in Langkawi in Malaysia, and last month, when one of the 25 dolphins died on its way to Singapore.

RWS chief executive Tan Hee Teck yesterday reiterated that the welfare of all the animals in the resort is important, and it will continue its work on conservation and educating the public on the issue.

On Friday, Acres issued RWS an ultimatum, saying it would boycott all of Genting Group's properties if it does not rehabilitate the remaining 24 dolphins and return them to the wild.

"We hope that we won't need to launch a boycott, but we are ready to do so if needed and we are confident that members of the public will support this," said Mr Louis Ng, Acres' chief executive.

He added that the group also highlighted to RWS on Friday that the 12-minute fireworks display to mark the grand opening might "compromise the dolphins' welfare" as they are sensitive to sounds.

He cited an incident in Switzerland, where a dolphin was found dead after a techno event was held near the aquarium it was housed in.

NG KAI LING


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