German Animal Rights Group Sues Attica Zoo Over Dolphins

A dolphin at the Attica Zoological Park. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – After Greek inspectors said the Attica Zoological Park was mistreating dolphins by using them in shows where they have to do water acrobatics, a German animal rights group said it would sue to stop what it called their “criminal” treatment.

ProWal’s Managing Director, Andreas Morlok, said on the group’s Facebook page that the dolphins are forced to perform unnatural acts like jumping over cement walls outside their pool, while their accommodation facilities are lacking.

The privately-owned zoo issued a statement dismissing the claims made by Morlok and accused him of “systematic misinformation,” said Kathimerini, call ProWal  “a small German activist company,” that wants to close all zoos and dolphinariums across the world.

In November, inspectors from the Environment Ministry challenged the legality of the dolphin displays, saying the spectacle violated animal protection laws.

The mammals are being forced to do tricks that are against animal protection laws, the inspectors said, but zoo officials said it’s part of the dolphins exercise program.

The inspectors’ report was forwarded to a prosecutor, who will investigate whether the way the zoo displays the dolphins constitutes exploitation.

In the Nov. 3 report, inspectors said they paid an admission fee of 3 euros to watch the dolphins performing acrobatic tricks and “pirouettes” for 20 minutes in “an entertainment spectacle,” in a show that has been done often at other zoos around the world, but drawn criticism from animal and mammal lovers.

“The inspectors obviously didn’t take an interest in listening to the narrator… and the explanations that accompany the program that is aimed at exercise and public awareness,” the zoo countered in a written statement. “All of the behaviors the public see are natural behaviors that we explain during the course of the display.”