To Rocky, Rambo, and Johnny, freedom is swimming through seawater, enjoying the rhythm and sounds of the ocean without being forced to perform on command.
For years, all the three dolphins knew were tiny, chlorinated pools and loud crowds. But today, they’re finally free again thanks to a one-of-a-kind sanctuary in Bali, Indonesia.
A few years ago, the dolphins were captured in the Java Sea, ripped away from their family pods and natural environment to live in captivity at Bali’s Melka Excelsior Hotel. There, jumping through hoops and swimming with tourists in pools became their new reality — until help came last year.
Teaming up with the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) in Bali, and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), the U.S.-based non-profit Dolphin Project opened the world’s first permanent dolphin sanctuary in 2019. That same year, Rocky, Rambo, and Johnny became its first residents.
At The Bali Dolphin Sanctuary, dolphins are rehabilitated and either released or retired, depending on their condition. Those well enough to be released back into the wild are taken to Camp Lumba Lumba Readaptation and Release Center, then set free in Karimun Jawa, from which many were originally captured.
Rambo is a sensitive dolphin rescued from captive exploitation last year, who needs time to adapt to new changes. We couldn’t be more pleased with his progress & confidence during his rehabilitation! Read more: https://t.co/hbUcItThe6#DolphinProject #UmahLumba #FreeBaliDolphins pic.twitter.com/io1QQUrP0N— Dolphin Project (@Dolphin_Project) August 3, 2020
“The facility sea pens are about 15 meters (50 feet) deep,” reads Dolphin Project’s website. “These pens are some of the largest in the world and being situated in calm, natural seawater, boast a variety of fish, squid, crustaceans and other sea life. The size, depth and biological diversity offer a rich and stimulating environment for formerly captive dolphins!”
While Johnny will live out his days at the sanctuary, there’s a chance both Rambo and Rocky will return to the ocean. But no matter what happens, they’ll never be exploited again.
Bali Dolphin Sanctuary: When Rocky, Rambo and Johnny jump it’s because they want to, not because they have to. Now free from captive exploitation, they live in peace and dignity in the deep, rich water of the bay: https://t.co/ciW5spQ4NJ— Dolphin Project (@Dolphin_Project) July 5, 2020
Video: Tinton Yudhanto #DolphinProject pic.twitter.com/Zj2Lmd0MMv
In the little time it’s been open, the sanctuary has already given three dolphins their lives back. And this project is just getting started! Ric O’Barry, an animal activist and founder of the Dolphin Project, says the organization hopes to open more facilities in Italy and Crete. In the meantime, they won’t stop until every captive dolphin is free.
Take a virtual tour of the facility in the video below, and share to spread the word about this incredible sanctuary! You can also help by donating here.
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