Two remaining dolphins at Melka Hotel ‘can’t be released back into the wild’: Dolphin Project

Left: Johnny the dolphin. Right: Dewa the dolphin. Photo: Dolphin Project
Left: Johnny the dolphin. Right: Dewa the dolphin. Photo: Dolphin Project

Last month, animal activists and authorities evacuated a number of creatures from the Melka Hotel in northern Bali over concerns they were being seriously mistreated, but they weren’t able to take all of them. Two of the hotel’s dolphins were judged to be too sick to be removed at the time, and activists now believe they might not be able to be released back into the wild at any point. But they still believe there’s more that can be done to give them a better life. 

“Johnny and Dewa can’t be released back into [the] wild, at least that’s my professional opinion,” Richard “Ric” O’Barry, founder and director of Dolphin Project, wrote in a blog post last week.

Established in 1970, Dolphin Project is a US-based non-profit organization working to protect dolphins worldwide.

“Johnny is blind. Probably from the high levels of chlorine, and Dewa’s bloodwork is showing a very high white blood cell count. He might not make it,” O’Barry continued. 

In early August, the Dolphin Project worked with the Indonesian government’s Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) in Bali and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) on the rescue mission, to evacuate a number of animals from the Melka Hotel, following years of allegations of animal abuse. 

Two dolphins, three saltwater crocodiles, two leaf monkeys, as well as snakes and porcupines, which made up a majority of the animals being kept in allegedly “deplorable conditions,” have been removed from the hotel’s facilities. 

However, the two remaining dolphins – Johnny and Dewa – were determined to be unfit for evacuation and are still being kept in the Melka Hotel’s swimming pool as of today. 

According to the Dolphin Project, Johnny and Dewa’s bad health are most likely a result of chlorine toxicity in the swimming pool. The organization explained that Dewa’s teeth are gone and therefore the dolphin no longer has the ability to catch fish. Johnny’s blindness, meanwhile, means that he can never be released back into the wild either. 

The dolphins were reportedly purchased by the Melka Hotel from an Indonesian traveling dolphin circus. There were originally five of the cetaceans, but one unfortunately died before the rescue mission last month. 

“Our team is working to get [them] out of that bleak and barren tank and into a spacious ‘special needs’ sea-pen. Once back in clear, clean sea water, he can once again experience the natural rhythms of the sea, the tides, and the currents. This is where the healing process begins,” the Dolphin Project said on a Facebook post yesterday.

The organization hopes to evacuate both Johnny and Dewa to a dolphin sanctuary, but there are no such sanctuaries in Indonesia. 

“We’re going to have to create one,” O’Barry wrote.


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