The World Animal Protection (WAP) report in partnership with Change for Animals Foundation, “The show can’t go on”, states that they studied 1,200 zoos and aquariums linked to WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums). The study states that 75 percent of venues offered “at least one type of animal visitor interaction including some truly horrific cases that have no place in modern zoos and aquariums”.

Following the study, Zoomarine in Guia was placed on a list of 12 venues to “avoid” with the WAP adding that: “It is time that people be part of the solution and avoid venues that offer cruel interactions. This will send out a clear message – that treating animals this way is not acceptable”.

WAP state that they visited a number of venues which offer dolphin interaction between August 2018 and May 2019 and say “at Zoomarine (Portugal), staff stand on the back of the dolphins and “surf” them around the water. The show also involved the dolphins towing a small boat carrying children around the tank.”

“We witnessed these intelligent marine predators performing choreographed “tricks” for noisy crowds. We found them being treated as nothing more than selfie props as visitors hugged, stroked and kissed them. We even saw them being made to exhibit human actions such as “waving” with their flippers.”

“World Animal Protection believes that holding dolphins captive in tiny enclosures constitutes a life devoid of naturalness.”

Following the publication of the report and the list, Zoomarine responded to the accusations stating that they were “unacceptable”.

“Our family of professionals categorically rejects such accusations and does not recognise the technical-scientific basis, clinical basis, veterinary medical experience in exotic species, and / or ethological context to such a document. We know that this text is an attempt by extremists to use false “animal malaise” arguments to illicitly promote animal rights policies (that is, to try to advance their prohibitionist ideologies).”

Zoomarine continued to highlight the numerous awards and accolades they have received over the decades: “We know that many animals suffer in the world, and for 30 years our teams of professionals have been trying to educate our visitors and partners on such suffering (and its causes). The many dozens of international prizes we have won since 1991 are a clear sign of our commitment (and achievements) in steadily enhancing the level of well-being that our nonhuman families enjoy.”

Zoomarine added that a recent inspection from American Humane, awarded Zoomarine with 94.7 percent in their evaluation showing “clear proof that we are on the right track”.

“We understand that there are entities that oppose sharing experiences and emotions with animals…however, we maintain full confidence in the national authorities (DGAV and ICNF) that inspect and license Portuguese zoos and we are proud to know that Zoomarine, as an accredited member of prestigious entities (eg: EAAM - European Association for Aquatic Mammals) European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, AIZA (Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums), regulates, organises itself and is overseen by entities with the largest and deepest experience in the management and exhibition of exotic species in zoos and aquariums.”

Zoomarine concluded by stating that: “Our team will continue to play their role proudly and joyfully, continue to love and protect the species that we welcome and live here, and will continue to show every day, year after year, to those who visit us and to the specialists with whom we cooperate, the high levels of well-being, care and affection we give to those to whom Zoomarine is dedicated to: our zoological family”.