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Angel and Taiji Whale Museum Lawsuit Update

| Mark J. Palmer, Int'l Marine Mammal Project
Topics: Dolphin and Whale Trade, Dolphins, Taiji, Japan

We have some recent video and photos of the little albino dolphin Angel, caught up in the Taiji slaughter in January 2014.  Angel’s mother was slaughtered along with the rest of her pod, and Angel was caught by the Taiji Whale Museum and put in a tank with several other dolphins, including some male striped dolphins.  There she remains a freak on exhibit because of her snow-white skin.  We even ran an ad in the New York Times about Angel’s plight.

In the meantime, in honor of Angel, our colleagues at Australia for Dolphins (AFD) and Earth Island joined forces to sue the Taiji Whale Museum.  It seems the Museum stopped allowing Westerners to come into the Museum, claiming with a sign that we were “anti-whaling”.  But that is discrimination and illegal under the Japanese constitution.  AFD recruited the law firm Takano of Tokyo, and Earth Island supported the lawsuit with funds for the legal fees and Takano Law Firm and statements from our Cove Monitors about the discrimination that was entered for the record.

Now that lawsuit is at last coming to a head, with a trial now set for Friday, November 6th, in Wakayama, Japan.  The Taiji Whale Museum is owned by the Taiji town government, which also sponsors the slaughter of hundreds of dolphins each year.  A loss would cause a great deal of embarrassment for the Taiji town and the dolphin hunters that have tried to exclude Westerners from the Museum.  

Takashi Takano, Representative Partner of the Takano Law Office, commented: “The Taiji Whale Museum’s conduct is an egregious violation of the Japanese constitution and deeply-held Japanese values. My clients were refused entry to a public place simply because of their appearance. We are confident we can demonstrate this in court.”

It is likely, if Earth Island and AFD win, that the media in Japan will report the results, helping us pierce the media blackout on the Taiji hunts that prevails in Japan.

A win for Earth Island and Australia for Dolphins would also mean an end throughout Japan of discrimination against activists from Western countries by aquariums that house dolphins caught in the drive hunts of Taiji.  That will allow us access to check on the health of these captive dolphins.

A win will also pave the way for further legal action, which we are researching for the near future.  We will have more information on that in future blogs.

It is not clear how long it will take the judge to make a decision on the case following the trial on Friday.   Sarah Lucas will be testifying in the courtroom (she and her father were denied permission to enter the Taiji Whale Museum, so she is the main plaintiff in the lawsuit).

And Angel?

Angel has grown some and looks fairly healthy in her tank, in terms of weight.  The tank is roofed over, a sad situation for a dolphin born under the sky and now deprived of the ocean and the sky.   More importantly for Angel’s health, the striped dolphins in her tank are still hazing her with open mouth threats (see the video footage), a problem that has been going on since Angel was placed in this tank by the Taiji Whale Museum.  It is discouraging that despite her larger size, the other dolphins are still hectoring her.

 

Angel the Albino Dolphin at Taiji Whale Museum from Int'l Marine Mammal Project on Vimeo.

 

Angel also keeps her eyes closed down, as they are likely sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals in the water she swims in. Angel should be in an outside enclosure (which the Taiji Whale Museum has), with sufficient shade to prevent sunburn, but still allowing her some semblance of the freedom of the ocean and sky. An older female bottlenose dolphin would be helpful as a companion. The outside enclosures use fresh seawater and would not have the chemicals added, depending on the tide to flush them out.

 

 

In any event, of course, Angel should never have been removed from her mother and pod.  It is the ongoing tragedy that such slaughters and captures for captivity are continuing and will go on until the end of February.

 

What You Can Do:

Sign our petition to Prime Minister Abe of Japan, asking that the Taiji dolphin hunts be stopped.  The 2020 Olympics will be coming to Japan, so it is time the country stopped the slaughter of dolphins and whales and stopped catching dolphins for entertainment. 

Japan does not want to be an international scofflaw when the world turns its attention to the Olympics.

Please also consider a donation to Earth Island for our legal costs and travel expenses to look in on Angel and the other dolphins in aquariums in Japan.  Your support is critical to our success in saving dolphins and whales from a miserable life of captivity and of being slaughtered for meat. 

Video and photos of Angel courtesy of Angel Melody.