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PHUKET: Tourists led the charge, as an overwhelmingly majority of the more than 7,000 readers who took part in the recent Phuket Gazette poll voted against opening the island’s controversial dolphin park.

A staggering 4,353 of the 4,435 (98%) of those who identified themselves as “Tourists / Visitors to Phuket” voted: no – Phuket should not have a dolphinarium; they are cruel and it has long been known that captivity kills dolphins.

Only 82 tourists – presumably the Nemo Dolphinarium’s target market – ticked the box for: yes – Phuket

Cove Monitor Vicki Kiely sits down with PGTV ahead of the marine conservation Q&A about dolphin captivity on October 16. Video: PGTV

should have a dolphinarium; many other global tourist destinations have dolphin parks and shows that are very popular with tourists.

Those who identified themselves as “Local Foreign Residents” and “Thai Nationals” also voted overwhelmingly against the park, but were slightly more open to the idea.

Out of a total 1,420 votes from Thai Nationals, 1,306 were cast against the project (92%) and 114 (8%) for it. Local expatriates were marginally more opposed to the Nemo Dolphinarium with 95% of respondents voting against the park and 5% for it.

A number of individuals and groups have spoken out against the Nemo Dolphinarium, including Ric O’Barry, founder of Project Dolphin and well-known trainer of “Flipper”. Mr O’Barry spoke exclusively to the Gazette about the incoming dolphin park and its connection to the killer Taiji Cove in Japan (Video Report here).

Mr O’Barry is expected to join an event via Skype on October 16 at the Irish Times in Patong. There, local marine conservationists and animal rights activists will discuss the lethal consequences for dolphins captured from the wild and kept in captivity (story here).