Bottlenose dolphins are among the most intelligent species on the planet. Photo by iStock.
Bottlenose dolphins are among the most intelligent species on the planet. Photo by iStock.

Activists in Japan have been protesting the treatment of a dolphin and other animals stuck in a former tourist attraction at the Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium.

After earthquakes and nuclear crises hit the region in 2011, the number of visitors to the aquarium declined significantly, forcing its operators to shut down its facilities in Choshi, Reuters reported.

One of them is Honey, a female bottlenose dolphin who was captured in 2005 near the port town of Taiji. According to an official with the Chiba prefectural Health and Welfare department, Honey and hundreds of other aquatic animals including 46 penguins remain inside the aquarium.

The official added that park staff are still feeding the remaining animals. However, graphics from activists show the dolphin residing in an undersized pool and penguins perched on a damaged structure alongside debris in the empty facility.

Activists declared Honey to be a symbol of both Taiji’s hunting culture and marine park failings.

“Honey was showing signs of stress, putting her head in and out of the water in a weak manner,” said Akiko Mitsunobu from the Animal Rights centre.

A city official from Choshi city said they had failed to reach representatives of the park. Calls to the park and its management firm reportedly went unanswered.

Taiji was the focus of global outrage after an Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove” showed the western port town’s annual hunt, during which hundreds of dolphins are driven into a bay.

Some of the dolphins ended up imprisoned in marine parks while the others were killed for their meat. The Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums has since stopped the purchase of Taiji dolphins.