No tricks or flips allowed at Jedol dolphin show

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No tricks or flips allowed at Jedol dolphin show

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said yesterday that they will no longer allow a dolphin trick show, but will instead replace it with an educational program.

Jedol, a 13-year-old Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin that has been featured at Seoul Grand Park since 2009, will be appear in a show titled “The Story of Jedol,” but flips and tricks will not be offered anymore.

“We decided to close the show that demands dolphins be trained,” said Lee Won-hyo, the director of the Seoul Zoo, during a press briefing.

“Training dolphins to clear hurdles or teaching them to clap their hands like humans is only for the sake of arousing the human’s interest. However, some simple demonstrations including jumping or swimming will be shown because those movements are instinctive and do not need any training.”

The zoo explained that the decision was made based on the results of a series of surveys they conducted in March and April.

In a telephone poll of 1,000 randomly selected Seoul citizens in March, 52 percent of the citizens wanted the show to keep going while 40 percent of the respondents were opposed to the show.

A report that analyzed collected opinions on social networking services stated that 56.8 percent of a total of 7,283 posts agreed with the closing of the show, while 23.2 percent of the posts disagreed on the closure.

“The new show might not satisfy both animal abuse protest groups and dolphin show fans,” Lee said. “But we think we have reflected both sides’ opinions well.”

However, animal protection groups pointed out that the new show might just be a lesser version of the previous dolphin show.

“Dolphins get stressed from the sound of people clapping or the sounds from audio systems that are used at shows,” Cho Hee-kyung, head of the Animal Freedom Federation of Korea, told the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“The city government should improve dolphins’ living circumstances. Sending them to a maritime park would be a solution for them.”

Several groups, including the labor union of the zoo, said that terminating the show is unfair because many animals such as seals and dogs participate in shows in which seals clear hurdles or dogs fetch balls.

“If the show really provides that much stress to animals, all zoos or aquariums must stop providing such shows,” said Lee Gyeong-jae, head of the Seoul Zoo labor union. “The city government is reacting way too sensitively to civic groups’ opinions.”

Lee added that the show is the most popular program at the zoo, attracting 949,000 people last year.

By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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