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Portugal praised for refusing import of Wild Dolphins

"An application to import ten wild-captured bottlenose dolphins from Guinea-Bissau (West Africa) into Portugal for public display at the Lisbon Zoo has been refused by the Portuguese authorities to CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).This move has been praised by a coalition of animal welfare groups and conservationists including Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the Born Free Foundation, Eurogroup for Animal Welfare and the Bellerive Foundation.

International trade in bottlenose dolphins is strictly controlled by CITES and they can only be imported into the European Union for very exceptional reasons. Nevertheless, they continue to be captured from the wild and imported into the EU for public display. As well as presenting a serious risk to the welfare and survival of the animals captured and taken into captivity, such removals can have serious implications for the continued viability of the wild populations targeted.

Nicolas Entrup of Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society comments: ""In view of such a lack of information about the status of West Africa’s bottlenose dolphin populations, any removal of animals for public display would have been entirely unjustified. This situation is also true in other parts of the world where, sadly, captures of bottlenose dolphins continue for international trade, such as in Cuba"".

The coalition continues to call on the Portuguese authorities to refuse an application by Zoomarine, another captive facility in Portugal, to import wild-caught dolphins from Cuba.

Stephan Whelan
Stephan Whelan
Stephan is the Founder of His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans. In 1996 he set up and has grown the site to be the most popular diving website and community in the world.