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'World's loneliest dolphin' dies after being abandoned for 2 years in closed aquarium

Honey was captured and forced to live in an aquarium until she eventually died. Her story is an example of what happens to wildlife when we hold them in captivity.

'World's loneliest dolphin' dies after being abandoned for 2 years in closed aquarium
Image Source: The Dolphin Project / YouTube

In 2018, the Dolphin Project, an animal rights charity, discovered that Honey, a bottlenose dolphin, was captured in a brutal hunt and forced to live at the Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium in the city of Choshi, Japan. The aquarium eventually shut down. While the future of the facility remained in limbo, Honey, accompanied by 46 penguins and hundreds of fish and reptiles, was forced to languish in a tiny "swimming pool" in the aquarium. Sadly, it has been discovered that she is no more. Though the Dolphin Project made several attempts to rescue the bottlenose dolphin, they were unable to save her. She died on March 29 earlier this year, the Evening Standard reports.


The charity stated in an announcement on its website, "In late February of this year, we reached out to our Japanese colleagues once again in attempts to purchase Honey in order that she could be retired in peace and dignity. These conversations ended in early March when it became apparent Honey was unlikely to survive. Later that month on March 29, Honey died in her tank." If you search for the aquarium's location on Google Maps, you can still see Honey floating around in her pool. Honey's death is a tragic example of what happens to animals held in captivity for the entertainment of humans. Her death, however, is not unique. The Dolphin Project explained that they had encountered several other dolphins in similar situations in countries like the United States, South Korea, Haiti, Indonesia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Brazil.

Image Source: Google Maps

Nonetheless, in many instances, the charity was able to step in and rehabilitate the poor animals originally captured to live their lives in small tanks and enclosures. Honey was not so lucky. It had been claimed that the owner of the Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium was in debt and seeking a buyer in 2018. The following year, the aquarium had been sold - along with Honey and her fellow inhabitants. The Kaisou Health Center, which managed the animals at the aquarium, confirmed the sale. However, it is unclear if the aquarium had employed individuals to take care of the animals. While the aquarium was "in limbo," one paid employee had regularly visited the facility in order to feed Honey and her friends.



Honey first made headlines in 2018 when the Dolphin Project released footage of her swimming in her small pool. The video inspired a movement for animal rights across the world, including in Japan. After thousands of advocates pushed for aquariums to release the animals they held in captivity, the charity, in collaboration with their local partners the Central Jakarta Forestry Department and JAAN, opened the world’s first permanent dolphin sanctuary in 2019. Now, the Dolphin Project is able to care for formerly captive dolphins at their Bali Dolphin Sanctuary. They were also able to construct the globe's first permanent facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of dolphins. There, they also address "the need for effective enforcement mechanisms of a law banning wild dolphin captures in Indonesia." Though Honey may not have survived captivity, her story is a reminder to those who benefit from the horrific capture of wildlife. These animals deserve to be free, just like you or me.



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