This footage shows Femke, a mother dolphin in France who barely moves in her tank after her babies were always taken away from her or died.
Animal rights organisation One Voice made the images available to Newsflash and said: “This is Femke, her body is deformed because of an old illness. But her main problem is grief about her children, dead or taken from her. She almost never moves in her tank.”
Femke currently lives at the Parc Asterix theme park in the commune of Plailly in the Oise department in northern France, not far from Paris.
According to French news organisation France 3, Femke arrived at the amusement park in 2008 after having spent 24 years in captivity in the Netherlands after having been caught off the coast of Florida.
One Voice told Newsflash: “Femke’s son Ekinox was sent to Greece, to the Parc Attica (which has since lost its licence to show them). Families of dolphins are being destroyed by captivity, the mothers are in mourning.”
The Parc Asterix in 2017 denied that Femke was depressed, instead saying that she suffers from Cushing syndrome, which occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol over a long period of time.
But like One Voice, another animal rights organisation, the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, maintained in 2018 that Femke became ill shortly after her baby was taken from her.
A 2018 petition to have Femke reunited with Ekinox and moved to a sanctuary for marine animals, co-signed by One Voice and the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, attracted 149,383 signatures.
But Femke still lives at the Parc Asterix.
One Voice say they were supposed to have a long-awaited meeting with French authorities on Thursday 9th July to discuss banning the captive breeding of marine animals and their trade but it has been postponed “to a future date”.
One Voice founding president Muriel Arnal told Newsflash that there is a protected marine wildlife sanctuary for dolphins “in Asia” where they could have a lot more space and learn to feed themselves again.
The Parc Asterix is based on the comic book series Asterix by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny. It is the France’s second biggest theme park after Disneyland Paris.
Last week shocking images shared by One Voice showed a poor killer whale called Inouk who has lost almost all his teeth because he has been gnawing at his enclosure.
Animal rights organisation One Voice made the images available to Newsflash showing Inouk in his tank at the Marineland Antibes, a theme park in the city of Antibes on the French riviera, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of south-eastern France, on the Cote d’Azur between Cannes and Nice.
One Voice told Newsflash: “The only killer whales in France are at the Marineland Park in Antibes. Inouk is special because he has eaten away the walls of the pool to the pool liner gel. He is in constant pain. The main thing that we denounce is him not being able to live as he should, and the physical consequences of his mental suffering.”
The animal rights organisation is demanding that the government ban breeding programmes in aquariums because they say that very often, newborn dolphins and whales die soon after their birth. They also want a ban on the sale of marine wildlife, that should be allowed to live in the wild.
Speaking to Newsflash about the state of the country’s aquariums, Arnal said: “These animals are highly intelligent and need to be in the ocean. A pool can never replace their natural habitat. In the wild they would swim a hundred miles a day. Here, muscles are weak and they are bored.”
She also said they are more intelligent than great apes (such as gorillas, chimpanzees or bonobos, for example) and that killer whales have a language, just like humans, with dialects and which evolves depending on their environment.
For Arnal, these whales should be in sanctuaries, large protected areas in the ocean that would allow them to learn to swim long distances “in a straight line instead of going around in circles”, learn to hunt for their food, and to live where they can be protected.
One Voice are suing the French government for letting these animals suffer. They want 500,000 EUR (447,700 GBP) in compensation that they would use to set up a marine wildlife sanctuary.
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