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Jiyu was a crystal clear example of the immense cruelty of capturing and maintaining dolphins in captivity and we need to make sure his death is not in vain.

Report by Rosie Kunneke – November 14th, 2011

There was also the very sad day when we located the very sick and depressed dolphin at the Dolphin Base resort who we affectionately named “Jiyu” (freedom). In earlier reports, I reported on this specific dolphin’s depressed behavior and resulting injections from the trainers. After these, he went into a deep depression, as evident by floating in the furthest corner of the pen and refusing to take any food from the trainers. As of last week when we were monitoring the dolphin killers killing a pod of Risso’s dolphins, we noticed that the pen Jiyu was in was empty but we eventually located Jiyu two days later in different pen. He was neurotically spyhopping non-stop once again and extremely thin.

We immediately issued a call to action to ask people to please contact the Dolphin Base resort and request for Jiyu’s assisted release and qualified veterinary assistance. I went up to the man we suspect is the owner of the resort and politely asked in Japanese to please give Jiyu his freedom. Instead of considering my request, he phoned the police and told them I was causing trouble. The police came rushing to the scene only to find out that I was not causing any trouble. I asked the police to please enforce the Japanese law on the Humane Treatment and Management of Animals that came into effect in 2006. The policeman indicated that I must remember that animal rights in Japan are not as important as in other countries.

About half an hour after the police had left, one of the dolphin killers showed up dressed in a wetsuit which could only mean they were planning to kill Jiyu. The dolphin killer noticed my presence, immediately made a phone call and then left. The reality of captivity was even evident later in the day when tourists on a tourist boat docked next to the pens. The dolphin trainers had the dolphins in another pen perform a show for the tourists. It was surreal to see the tourists laughing and clapping for the performing dolphins while in a different pen only 20 meters away, the extremely frail Jiyu was spyhopping non-stop.

I stayed with Jiyu until it was dark. When we returned the next day, there was a dolphin killer at the resort again and sadly, Jiyu was nowhere to be found. We suspect they killed Jiyu either during the night or very early in the morning, when they know we are monitoring the dolphin killers.

A group of tourists view a trained dolphin show while 20m away a skinny, neurotic dolphin wastes away in captivity.

Jiyu was a crystal clear example of the immense cruelty of capturing and maintaining dolphins in captivity and we need to make sure his death is not in vain. We need to make sure the world is aware of the absolute cruelty of dolphins in captivity. I would like to thank all our dedicated supporters who fought really hard to help Jiyu – it was truly amazing to see the massive reaction.

© Cove Guardians – Top video by Heather Hill