The Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) in Bali is investigating the death of a dolphin that had been kept as an attraction at a hotel in the town of Lovina in North Bali’s Buleleng regency after the cetacean died on Saturday morning.
“We have conducted an autopsy and we will carry out more examinations,” I Ketut Catur Marbawa of Bali’s BKSDA told Detik today.
The hotel, which was identified as the Melka Excelsior Hotel in a report from Merdeka, possesses a conservation permit that allows it to house protected animals such as dolphins.
Catur told Merdeka that the dolphin has been with the hotel for more than a decade and was one of five dolphins under the hotel’s care.
“We check them regularly, especially because [the hotel] has been having problems with the bank right now. The property has been confiscated by the bank, and it’s being auctioned off. But the dolphins are not part of that deal and they are still responsible for taking care of the animals,” Catur added.
BKSDA is being assisted by the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) in the investigation. Should they find any signs of negligence, the hotel stands to lose their permit, Catur said.
The Melka Hotel describes itself as a “Dolphin Hotel” and offers its guests a chance to watch their daily dolphin show or to swim with dolphins in the hotel’s saltwater pools (the latter for an additional charge, according to their website).
In addition, the hotel also offers Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT), a type of animal-assisted therapy, a controversial practice that has been criticized by some for having no real long-term benefits.
The hotel claims to have rescued the sea mammals and, on their website, they highlight the immense cost and complexity of caring for the dolphins to make the case for why they charge guests for interacting with the creatures (many of which swim around freely in the waters near Lovina).
“We have the serious suspicion that the so-called animal protectors are the ones who actually enrich themselves with dolphins and earn a ‘golden nose’ and their eligibility from the donations and ignorance of animal lovers,” the hotel said on their website.
The hotel’s website also describes having to deal with “annoying and unpleasant experiences” with “various fanatic animal activists” who have try to give them a bad reputation with false information, adding that these organizations or individuals “publish some bullshit stories” to “kick-off a wave of outrage.”
According to the Dolphin Project, a US-based non-profit organization working to protect dolphins worldwide, the Melka Hotel is “in very poor condition, with many buildings empty and crumbling.” Dolphin Project claimed that their investigation revealed that the dolphins are only fed a minimal amount in order to keep them motivated to perform and interact with guests.
Read more news and updates from Bali here.