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Animal rights group threatens to sue Dolphins Park in Athens

A German animal rights group said that it plans to file a lawsuit against the Attica Zoological Park in Spata, east of Athens, over its alleged “criminal” treatment of dolphins.

ProWal’s managing director, Andreas Morlok, said on the group’s Facebook page that the dolphins are forced to perform unnatural acts like jumping over cement walls outside their pool, while their accommodation facilities are lacking.

The privately-owned zoo issued a statement dismissing the claims made by Morlok and accused him of “systematic misinformation.”

It said that the aim of ProWal, “a small German activist company,” is to shut down all zoos and dolphinariums.

In November, inspectors from the Greek Environment Ministry challenged the legality of the dolphin displays, saying the spectacle contravenes animal protection laws and misusing them in shows where they have to do water acrobatics, the ProWal’s  said.

The mammals are being forced to do tricks that are against animal protection laws, the inspectors said, but zoo officials said it’s part of the dolphins exercise program.

The inspectors’ report was forwarded to a prosecutor, who will investigate whether the way the zoo displays the dolphins constitutes exploitation.

In the Nov. 3 report, inspectors said they paid an admission fee of 3 euros to watch the dolphins performing acrobatic tricks and “pirouettes” for 20 minutes in “an entertainment spectacle,” in a show that has been done often at other zoos around the world, but drawn criticism from animal and mammal lovers.

“The inspectors obviously didn’t take an interest in listening to the narrator… and the explanations that accompany the program that is aimed at exercise and public awareness,” the zoo countered in a written statement. “All of the behaviors the public see are natural behaviors that we explain during the course of the display.”

Local animals welfare societies have been criticizing the dolphins’ show and their living conditions for years, saying among others that the pools are too small for the mammals.

In an interview with a Greek website in April 2017, Natassa Bobolaki, lawyer and president of the Greek Animal Welfare and Environment Federation, said that “six dolphins have died in the Attica Zoo and this is due to depression as the majority of them are young mammals who need a better living environment.”

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