HL AQUARIUM DOLPHIN DEFERRED FROM DRAFT
Byline: Dianne Dumanoski, Globe Staff
SO BOSTON GLOBE (BOGL)
LP The New England Aquarium yesterday abandoned plans to send one of its three performing dolphins to a Navy facility that does research on dolphins and trains them for military work. Under an agreement reached between the New England Aquarium and an animal rights group, the fate of the dolphin, Rainbow, is unclear, but animal rights advocates are urging that the animal be sent to a Caribbean retirement home.
TX The agreement ends a lawsuit brought by Citizens to End Animal Exploitation and Suffering, which named Rainbow as a plaintiff and s According to staff members, the aquarium had originally arranged to send Rainbow to the Navy's dolphin program because the 11-year-old male bottlenose is aggressive and does not get along with the other two dolphins that perform in the daily shows. When these plans became public in early September, however, officials from animal welfare and animal rights groups protested the possibility that the dolphin might be used for military purposes. Critics have campaigned against the Navy's $8 million-a-year classified marine mammal program, raising objections about the ethics of using animals to wage war. The aquarium contended that it had an understanding with the Navy that Rainbow was going to a research project. Although yesterday's settlement applies only to Rainbow, the aquarium's executive director, John Prescott, said he will probably stop the practice of sending dolphins to the Navy, even though he still believes that the Navy dolphin program provides excellent facilities and care for its animals. According to federal records, the aquarium has transferred three other dolphins to the US Naval Ocean Systems Center in San Diego over the past eight years. "In a practical sense," Prescott said, "you don't need to learn a lesson twice. Who needs the controversy?" Prescott maintains that the aquarium followed federal procedures in arranging Rainbow's transfer to the Navy and did nothing illegal. Wise, however, says the legal questions raised by the suit remain unresolved and he is looking for a new case to challenge the way. "It's a no-win situation." He said the aquarium decided to end the lawsuit for the welfare of the animal. Rainbow needs a new home, Prescott noted, and it wasn't possible to find him one while the lawsuit was pending. A hearing had been scheduled for Nov. 13. Now that Rainbow is not going to the Navy, Prescott said the aquarium has been contacting facilities around the country to see if any could take Rainbow. But none have space right now, Prescott said. In the meantime, he said, Rainbow is physically separated from the other two dolphins and performs solo segments in the daily dolphin shows. Prescott said he has no idea how long it will take before a suitable place can be found for Rainbow. "He's one of the friendliest we have," but since he's the sexually dominant member of the aquarium's dolphin group, Prescott said, the male bottlenose would be better off in a bigger colony. "We're very concerned about what happens to Rainbow," said Wise, so "we found a place for him in the Turks and Caicos Islands," a British crown colony southeast of the Bahamas. Wise said animal advocacy groups are about to open a dolphin retirement home, which has a mile-square water enclosure. "We think this is preferable for Rainbow rather than having to spend the rest of his life in a small dolphin tank in a display facility jumping through hoops for people," he said. "As Rainbow's attorney, I insist that Rainbow go to a place that is good for Rainbow." Prescott rejects this proposal, saying it is "unacceptable" because the facility is not licensed by the federal government or inspected by federal inspectors. But regardless, he added, "I can't fathom sending an animal out of the jurisdiction of the United States." Nancy Daves, a specialist in marine mammal issues with the Animal Protection Institute, a national animal welfare group, says the new facility might be an ideal place for a dol and Caicos facility is being supported and coordinated by a number of different animals groups in the United States and Britain in order to provide a place for dolphins now living in substandard facilities. "Into the Blue," as the retirement home has been named, will open shortly, she said, and the first dolphin retirees are expected to arrive from Britain at the end of November. Part of the funding for the effort, Daves said, is coming from the Belle Rive Foundation in Geneva, which is run by Prince * Sadruddin Aga Khan, the former high commissioner for refugees for the United Nations. If the aquarium is willing to release Rainbow, Daves said, her group and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society have committed to help raise the money to send him to the retirement home.
DUMANO;11/05 NIGRO ;11/06,12:29 RAINBO06 Caption: PHOTO GLOBE STAFF PHOTO/JOHN BLANDING / John Prescott, New England Aquarium executive director, watches as curator of marine mammals Kathy Krieger works with Rainbow. @ART: PHOTO
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