Honey, nick-named the ‘world’s loneliest dolphin,’ was found dead on March 29 in the same pool she had been for the last two years. She died at the Marine Park Aquarium in Choshi, east of Tokyo, Japan. It was the same aquarium where years ago she performed for thousands of people for their entertainment.
Along with 46 penguins and hundreds of fish and reptiles, she was left abandoned in the aquarium after the place shut down due to a decrease in visitors following the earthquake in 2011 and Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The animals in the abandoned attraction were fed but otherwise left to fend for themselves as they spent two years in the same dirty water. They were left at the marine park since January 2018.
Honey, a female bottlenose dolphin, was captured in 2005, near Taiji, a western port town in Japan. Taiji has become notorious for its annual dolphin hunt and was featured in the documentary, “The Cove”.
The practice of Japanese aquariums buying dolphins from Taiji received heavy criticism following the release of the film. The hunt involves sweeping hundreds of dolphins into a cove, where some are taken alive to sell to marine parks, while others are killed for their meat. The Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums has since agreed to stop buying dolphins from Taiji.
While Honey would benefit from being placed in a seaside sanctuary, none exist in Japan. Many people got involved in attempting to save the dolphin along with the abandoned animals. However, not much could be done at the time due to the absence of the facility’s owner.
Honey’s death was reported by the Dolphin Project, an animal charity based in the United States.
Attempts to Save Honey
The Dolphin Project claimed they made efforts to try and rescue Honey and the other animals but were not successful. The Dolphin Project has been investigating multiple reports of animals being abandoned and left to die for myriad of reasons.
The statement continues: “Dolphin Project has encountered dolphins in the United States, South Korea, Haiti, Indonesia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia and Brazil whom were all in similar situations as Honey.”
“In many instances, we were able to successfully rehabilitate and re-release these mammals. Honey’s plight attracted worldwide attention, and sparked a huge movement from within Japan. While tragically, she wasn’t able to escape the man-made enclosure she suffered in, Honey will remain the face of dolphin captivity for many years to come.”
In 2019, it was reported that the dolphin and the aquarium were then sold. The charity contacted the new owners to try to buy Honey, but their discussions ended in March when it became apparent that Honey was not going to survive.
The International Marine Mammal Project also got hold of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Switzerland, in an attempt to save the dolphin. Unfortunately, WAZA responded that the Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium was not one of their members; neither was it a member of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, who they contacted as well and claimed was aware of the dolphin’s situation. Because the owners of the park were untraceable, it seemed there was nothing they could do.
The news about Honey enraged netizens, with Twitter users posting photos captioned ‘Save Honey’. A resort owner even offered to give the abandoned animals a new home over Twitter, which sparked a downpour of retweets. Another user tweeted, begging authorities to help to push through in saving the animals.
“People for the ethical treatment of Animals” (PETA)’s director Elisa Allen said in a statement: “Because of human callousness, Honey found the only way out of the miserable tank she was imprisoned in and is finally at peace after years of suffering.
“From the moment she was caught in a net and dragged from her family and her ocean home, she languished alone in a cramped, filthy pool – where all she could do was swim in endless circles. While her death in a concrete cell marks the end of her wretched existence, PETA hopes it also marks the beginning of a new era for animals held prisoner at marine abusement parks.”
“We all know enough about other living, feeling beings now that we can no longer justify depriving intelligent, self-aware animals of a meaningful life for human amusement. We must work to move captive marine animals to seaside sanctuaries – where they can enjoy some semblance of the natural life they’ve been denied for so long.” She added finally.
However tragically, nothing was done to save the animals, and now, the ‘World’s Loneliest Dolphin’ remains to be a sad memory for many.