To read Part One first, click here.
The threat to the dolphins in India goes back much further though. In a very tragic turn of events, in 1998, a dolphinarium, Dolphin City, actually was set up in Chennai. CPREEC, Dr. Nanditha Krishna’s organization, and Blue Cross of India, of which Dr. Chinny Krishna was the Co-Founder and, at that time also the Vice Chairman, worked tirelessly to oppose it.
Very sadly, the three dolphins who had been imported from Bulgaria and brought to the Chennai dolphinarium, died within a few short months. The dolphinarium denied that they had died, and the show went on with only sea lions.
In reply to all questions, their story was that the dolphins were okay, and would soon be performing “when they were alright.” Dr. Chinny Krishna, of Blue Cross, persisted in telling the truth about the fate of the dolphins and in calling for an autopsy. Finally, a reporter from the Hindu confronted the dolphinarium’s management stating that if he was not allowed to see the dolphins, he would be forced to agree with Blue Cross’s statement that they had died. The truth of the dolphins’ deaths did come out. But, in the meantime, the dolphinarium had not only denied the dolphins’ deaths, but had ordered three more replacement dolphins from Bulgaria and arranged for their transport on a Russian plane, to be parachuted down from the plane on to the coast of Tamil Nadu, near Chennai. After the story broke in The Hindu, massive negative publicity erupted all over Chennai, forcing the dolphinarium to shut down — fortunately, this happened before they could import the three new dolphins. Sadly though, the sea lions, by this time, had also died.
In the midst of this overwhelmingly tragic story for the animals, Dr. Nanditha Krishna recalls a somewhat lighter moment — someone arrived carrying a “whole box full of rupees.” They thought they could bribe the Krishnas to keep quiet and forget all about the dead dolphins. Of course, the people were sent away in short order, taking their overstuffed box of rupees with them.
The Chennai dolphinarium was closed, thanks to the determined efforts of Blue Cross and CPREEC. Another attempt, just last year, to set up another one, in Mumbai, was also thwarted. With the ban just announced, India will be permanently free of the cruelty inherent in keeping dolphins in captivity.
Dr. Nanditha Krishna explains, “Dolphins belong to the ocean, just as other wild animals belong to the forest. Every species belongs in their own natural habitat. They have lovely smiles. They are so innocent. How can it be right to confine a dolphin and make them do performances?”
The system of animal protection laws in India is perhaps the most enlightened anywhere in the world; it has been put together over decades by many far-sighted leaders across India in the animal welfare movement. Even more significantly, it flows from the deep reverence for animals which, over the millennia, has been and still is part of the fabric of Indian life and culture.
The permanent ban issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Dr. Chinny Krishna believes, will put a definitive end, in India, to attempts to remove dolphins and other cetaceans from the sea and use them for human entertainment. “In the wild, dolphins live 40 or 50 years. In captivity, they may die in two or three years. If this isn’t cruelty, I don’t know what is. In India, this unkind captivity won’t be happening. Dolphins need to enjoy their freedom and their beautiful wild lives in the sea.”
In banning dolphinariums, India has, once again, led the way towards compassionate protection for animals.
If you’d like to write to thank Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan for this landmark ruling banning dolphinariums in India, you can write to her at
Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan
Minister of Environment and Forests
Government of India
Top photo: “This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made as part of an employee’s official duties.” / Wikipedia Commons / Common Dolphin
Second photo: © Lemonpink / Dreamstime.com / Two dolphins in the sea
Third photo: © Cancer741 / Dreamstime.com / Dolphins in nature