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Thursday, 21st May 2015
In Japan Entertainment News,

Japanese aquariums make ethical decision to stop buying Taiji dolphins

A vote taken by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) will mean its members no longer buy dolphins from the town of Taiji. The destination in Wakayama prefecture has become infamous, due to 2009 documentary The Cove, which portrayed dolphins being herded into nets by fishermen. Some were then killed with knives, while others were destined for the country's aquariums.

This has led to widespread condemnation of the practice, which sees hundreds of dolphins being killed every year. JAZA was facing the prospect of being expelled from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) if it did not change its stance on the procurement of dolphins from Taiji.

As a result, a vote was taken by members of the body in Japan, with 89 zoos and 63 aquariums creating a majority to ban obtaining the animals. Had the decision gone in the other direction, leaving WAZA would have made it very difficult for such attractions in Japan to gain rare species from abroad in the future.

Sarah Lucas, chief executive of campaign organisation Australia for Dolphins, told The Guardian: "We are absolutely delighted to hear Japan's peak zoo body has voted to uphold international animal welfare standards and stop purchasing Taiji dolphins."

Dolphins are a big attraction for visitors to aquariums in Japan, but knowing they come from distressing practices is likely to put tourists off attending such places. Instead, JAZA officials have stated that domestic breeding programmes will be expanded so that dolphins can be reared in a more ethical way to supply aquariums throughout the country.