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Indonesia to review dolphin release plan: official
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) June 17, 2011

Indonesia said Friday it would consider rehabilitating captive dolphins before releasing them into the wild, after animal welfare activists criticised a plan to dump them directly into the sea.

"We'll consider the concern of activists to put the captive dolphins in a rehabilitation programme before their release," conservation official Darori told AFP.

"Ultimately, we all want the dolphins to be healthy and survive after their release. We want their release to be a success," he said.

Activists say the dolphins from a zoo and a travelling circus need months of training to learn to swim straight, hunt, deal with ocean currents and use their sonar.

Without such rehabilitation they will almost certainly die in the open sea, they say.

The Jakarta Animal Aid Network said plans to release the mammals directly into the sea contravened a memorandum of understanding it had with the government to provide proper rehabilitation.

US dolphin activist Ric O'Barry, who was featured in the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove", said Indonesia would attract negative international publicity if it went ahead with plans to release them without rehabilitation.

"This is an opportunity for Indonesia to send a message to the rest of the world about how much it cares for nature," O'Barry was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe website on Thursday.

"They need to rebuild muscle strength, become accustomed to swimming in tides and currents and learn how to hunt live food again," he said.

There are reportedly about 50 dolphins illegally held in captivity in Indonesia, which has banned the illegal capture of dolphins in its waters.

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