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- Your Letters Are Needed! -
Updated: FEBRUARY 26, 2003

Help Save Dolphins Imprisoned In the Dominican Republic and Mexico!

Two of the most inhumane captive dolphin facilities are Manati Park in the Dominican Republic and the dolphinarium in La Paz, Mexico. Dolphins have died in both facilities and animal welfare groups have been working hard to shut them down and have the dolphins returned to the wild. The La Paz facility has been shut down, but the dolphins are still held captive in their small tanks. Your letters to the Mexican government are needed to help release these dolphins before they perish. The battle to shut down the dolphin facility at Manati Park is far from over - the Dominican Government recently gave the Park permission to capture eight more dolphins in Dominican waters, even though those waters have been designated a Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

  • To help the La Paz dolphins:
    For addresses and a letter to send to the Mexican government, please go to:

  • To help the Manati Park dolphins:
    Send or alter and send the sample letter below to Dr. Frank Moya Pons who is responsible for issuing the dolphin capture permit. It costs $0.80 to send a one-ounce letter to the Domincan Republic. Addresses are at the bottom of this message.

    For more information on Manati Park:


    Dr. Frank Moya Pons
    Secretario de Estado
    Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
    Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana

    Dear Dr. Frank Moya Pons,

    I am writing to you to ask you to please withdraw permission for Manati Park to capture eight more dolphins. Manati Park is considered by many animal welfare organizations to be one of the most exploitive captive dolphin programs. By allowing capture of these dolphins from Dominican waters, you will be violating environmental laws designating these waters a Marine Mammal Sanctuary. You will also be dooming the captured dolphins to extremely cramped, overworked conditions from which they are likely to die of stress.

    Dolphins are sensitive, intelligent creatures. It is cruel to remove them from their families and their natural environment. The profits made from dolphins at Manati Park are gained from animal suffering. This is not the image that a country known for eco-travel will want to maintain.

    As long as your country continues to support inhumane captive dolphin facilities, I will refrain from visiting and discourage others from visiting as well. Instead of captive dolphin programs, I urge you to develop alternatives that do not exploit dolphins or other animals.


    1. Dr. Frank Moya Pons (responsible for the permit)
    Secretario de Estado
    Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
    Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana

    Copy your letters to:

    2. Lic. Cecilio Carela
    Subsecretario de Recursos Costeros y Marinos
    Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naurales
    Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana

    3. Dominican Republic Tourist Board The address for the United States main office is below. If you are not in the United States, you can find other tourism offices addresses at this web address: world_wide_offices

    Fullfilment House for the United States
    1-800-723-6138 136 E. 57 St. Suite 803
    New York, N.Y. 10022 United States
    Director: Mercedes Perelló
    Telephone (212) 588-1012 / 14
    Toll Free 1-888-374-6361
    Fax (212) 588-1015

    Please also send your letters to Idelisa Bonnelly de Calventi and Eva Shandl, who are collecting letters of support from people abroad to present to the government of the Dominican Republic.

    1. Idelisa Bonnelly de Calventi Fundemar
    Socrates Nolasco No. 6, Apt. 401
    Residencial Carla Pamela
    Naco. Santo Domingo
    Dominican Republic
    Fax: 001-809-227-1142

    2. Eva Schandl
    For updates on these and other dolphin stories (good news as well as bad!): WSPA.


    One of the Tanks at Manati Park Barvaro

  • Photo Copyright: Helene O'Barry

  • Please sign the PETITION calling for the closure of the dolphin tank at Manati Park Barvaro!
  • Manati Park keeps five dolphins in tiny concrete tanks, where they have to perform several shows during the day and are allowed to be touched by almost 200 people by day - an expert says he has never seen dolphins as overworked as those at Manati Park.

    Starting back in 1999 this dolphin tank was investigated by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, who claimed that the living conditions of these dolphins are not acceptable. Worldwide protests to ask for a change of this cruel situation started.

    Since the beginning of this year international TV channels like ABC 20/20, European Channels, International Newspapers like the Time Magazine and New York Times published shocking reports and photos of the conditions these dolphins have to survive in that chlorinated tiny concrete tank. Several European TV Channels aired a video where a dolphin attacked a child in the pool because he was so distressed and overworked.

    The issue of May 21st of Time Magazine stated Manati Park as:".. one of the world's most controversial facilities.." "Worse, critics charge that several dolphins have died prematurely at Manati because of toxic waters." According to CITES documentation only five of the original imported and captured eight dolphins are still there now. But the owner even wants to add five additional dolphins to the tank next year.

    At a further investigation from the World Sociey for the Protection of Animals beginning 2001 the responsible consultant pointed out: "It seems that these dolphins work harder and longer than all the dolphins I have ever seen before and since 40 years I am involved in that.

    They are mistreated and overworked and they live in a very small and confined area." Besides the unacceptable living conditions of these dolphins and the stress they have to bear with often more than 200 people per day in the tank, who are allowed to touch them without any supervisor in the pool, it is very interesting to realise that at both invesigations of animal welfare groups attacks on tourists in the pool occured. Various attacks at the visit in 1999 being wittnessed as well as one attack at the visit in 2001 being videoproofed.

    Several tour operators as well as several big hotel chains have already cancelled their contract with Manati Park. VISA, NESTLE and PEPSI, who were mentioned as sponsers on the park's leaflet, have withdrawn their logos from all advertisment material. Almost 3.000 protest signatures have been handed over but in spite of all this opposition the dolphin tank is still open. We have to keep the pressure.

    Please help and send protest e-mails to:
    Dr.Idelisa Bonnelly de Calventi

    Please send a copy

    Please ask ask for the immediate closure of that dolphin tank. We are collecting protests to convince the responsible authorities in the Dominican Republic to finally act.


    - February 26, 2001


    - Manati Park -

    Dear All,


    This tourist attraction includes a swimming pool that houses 6 or 7 dolphins. Manati Park offers the paying public a chance to swim with the dolphins for $65.00US per person. This includes 5 minutes in the center pool area with 2 dolphins. Anywhere from 6 - 10 people at a time, are allowed to chase and touch the dolphins as they wish and are also pulled around the pool. This is followed up by a photo session at the side of the pool where the dolphins have been trained to flip over on their backs for a photo.

    There are 6 or 7 dolphins living in this undersized tank. Four or five dolphins are held in the small netted enclosure (as seen in picture) while two are in the main pool with the public during the swim sessions. The dolphins are rotated every hour or so. During the day the dolphins also put on a number of shows. The dolphins perform from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week.

    Many vacationers who have visited this facility are shocked at the manor in which these dolphins are being held. The owner of the facility has been claiming for some time now that he is going to make improvements to the facility but that has never happened. My guess is that this is just lip service to appease concerned tourists.

    Please take a minute of your time and write to the President of the Dominican Republic, the Secretary of Tourism and the owner of this facility and state your disapproval of this type of tourist attraction. I have included all names, email addresses and fax #'s below.

    I might add that personal letters have a much greater impact even if it is only a short letter. However, for those who choose a prewritten format, I have included one in the attachment above which you can forward.

    Thank you on behalf of the dolphins.

    Gwen McKenna

       Send letters to:

  • Presidente del Estado
    Mr. Hipolito Meja
    EMAIL: FAX: 001-809 686 03 16

  • Secretario de Estado de Turismo
    Mr. Ramon Alfredo Bordas
    EMAIL: FAX: 001-809 682 38 06

  • Presidente MANATI PARK
    Mr. Jose Miguel Moreno
    EMAIL: FAX: 001-809 221 92 82

    PLEASE cc: all copies of letters to Eva Schandl.


      Tourists who have visited Manati Park in the Bavaro region have serious concerns regarding the dolphins being held there.  They report that Manati Park is one of the worst facilities they have ever seen.

    Photos and video evidence show a pool of inadequate size for the 6 or 7 dolphins that are currently held captive at the facility.  Their confinement provides tourists with a swim-with-the-dolphins program.

    Manati Park allows anywhere from 6 to 10 visitors at a time to enter the small center pool.  During the swim session, two dolphins remain in this interactive area.  Visitors are allowed to chase and touch the dolphins as they wish and are also pulled around the pool.  There is no buffer or sanctuary area where the dolphins can retreat to get away from the unrestricted behavior of swimmers.  It is clear that these dolphins are not being provided with protection from abuse and harassment that can result from the unbalanced swimmer to dolphin ratio.  The dolphins are rotated every hour or so but they are otherwise confined to even smaller side pens.  Cramming dolphins into small sections of a pool causes them great stress, which can lead to illness and possible death.

    People like myself who have seen photos of this facility, agree that the pool is far too small.  Indeed, we were very shocked.

    It also concerns me to learn that a couple of dolphins have already died at this facility.

    Dolphins, especially when under duress, can turn aggressive, bite, and inflict serious injuries with head thrusts and fluke whacks.  How is the staff at Manati Park ensuring the safety of tourists in this swimming pool?  Photos reveal children in the pool in a completely unsupervised encounter.  Furthermore, there is no instructor in the pool, only a dolphin "trainer" outside of the pool.

    Unless a source of reliable water and adequate treatment for this water can be provided, a serious threat is posed to the public as well as the dolphins.

      The issue of capturing and confining dolphins in captivity is becoming highly contested worldwide, as it is not possible to confine dolphins without seriously compromising their most basic needs.  Housing animals in a backyard type swimming pool such as Manati Park is simply inhumane and unacceptable.

      Please don't let your country become a place where people can exploit these much loved animals.  In the end, it will only taint the image of your country and discourage numerous tourists who seek  travel destinations to locations that respect wildlife.  You may find the anticipated revenues from imprisoning dolphins in facilities like Manati Park will be greatly exceeded by the loss of tourist dollars by those who disapprove of dolphins in captivity.

      Thank you for your time and consideration.