A popular dolphin show that is being held at Souq Waqif as part of the ongoing 2015 Spring Festival has sparked anger among some Qatar residents who have criticized the event in the name of animal cruelty.
Calls to close the show grew louder this week after one of the dolphins got sick from eating construction waste.
On Wednesday, the Qatar Veterinary Center put a call out on Facebook for a volunteer “who is not squeamish with a freakishly long arm” to help remove a yellow plastic object lodged in Meri the dolphin’s stomach.
This morning the center announced that it would use custom-made tools to treat the dolphin today, and asked everyone to keep their “fins and flippers crossed.”
As well wishes poured in for Meri, anger at the dolphin’s plight was also clear. On the center’s Facebook page, commenter Corinne Sharp said:
“They shouldn’t even be here in the first place. Poor thing. The yellow thing she (swallowed) is probably from a toy that some child watching the show chucked in the water. So sad she is having to go through all that. You want to see dolphins go on holiday to a country that has dolphins swimming freely in the sea and hire a boat!!”
And commenting on a Doha News Facebook post about weekend events, some residents compared the dolphin show to other local issues like the mistreatment of animals in the souq, saying:
“I can’t believe Qatar has brought performing animals here, a nation awash with the abandoned and abused animals, many from the same Souk. How about parading the occupants of QAWS, PAWS, and all the other rescue Centres through Souk Wakif- certainly more educational than captured sentients jumping through hoops.”
In response to the criticism, a show manager said that every effort has been made to ensure that the animals, which also include a walrus and a seal, are well cared for.
Speaking to Doha News, Natalia Naumochkina, who works for the events firm organizing the show, Lana Group International, said:
“We have a technical rider that we have to adhere to, which includes dimensions for the pool, temperature of the water, and the type of sea water that needs to be there for the animals. All of this has been sent from the troupe itself, and we have built this venue from November to accommodate all their requirements.”
Addressing questions about the dolphin who became ill, Svetlana Levitskaya, Lana Group chairperson, told Doha News:
“One of our dolphins has taken sick, probably from ingesting a remnant of the construction work that has been going on since November. We have taken every measure to ensure that the animal receives the best care, and have spared no expense in treating it.”
She added that the 3m-deep pool, which was deemed too shallow by some residents, was adequate for the dolphins, who, along with other performing animals also swim in separate pools behind the stage.
The one-and-half-hour-long dolphin show is held at a specially constructed venue behind the Al Rayyan Channel at the periphery of the souq.
The troupe performs twice a day at 3:30 and 6:30 pm, and tickets to the show cost QR50 and QR100. Residents who attend can watch the troupe’s dolphins, aqua ballerinas, seal and walrus perform.
Earlier this week, children who attended the show appeared enthralled with the high-jumping, pirouetting, waltzing and mambo and tango-dancing dolphins.
Kids are also offered the opportunity to interact with the dolphins and be taken for a ride in a boat by the sea mammals.
Weighing 200kgs each, the animals were flown from Russia in a specially chartered plane in large baths made for their transportation.
The show also features a massive 650kg walrus named Mr. Poof who sings, plays the trumpet, exercises and consumes some 50kg of fish per day, as well as a group of five aqua ballet performers.
Though many residents were upset about the animal entertainment, those who attended the performances seemed pleased, and people could be seen photographing and video-taping the various acts.
Despite being scaled back following the passing of Saudi’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the festival has still drawn in large crowds, as residents take advantage of both the great weather and events on offer.
The festival runs from Jan. 23 to Feb. 6, but due to the king’s demise all music-related activities and a Rayyan FM-sponsored concert have been canceled.
Spread out over the entire souq, the festival is divided into numerous zones dedicated to specific activities.
Opposite Fanar, the Al-Ahmad Square has been converted into a massive games zone, complete with food and game stalls, and amusement park rides. Rides cost QR10 each, and tickets can be bought from booths outside the arena.
There are also camel and pony rides available, and various stilt and costumed performers can be seen walking through the crowd at the game zone.
A few meters into the souq at the Al Rayyan Theatre housed in the Al Mirqab Hotel is a production featuring the members of Kharameesh, a famous Arab musical band for children, held daily at 4 and 7pm. Tickets to the show cost QR100, QR150, QR200 and QR300.
Shaun the Sheep performances concluded yesterday.
Have you visited the festival? Thoughts?
They must be going through a lot of aqua ballet performers….
Animals are better than we humans. They are the most peaceful creatures on earth and still being mistreated for no reason. One again Shame on humanity. They have not even spared the animals.
“We are the post peaceful creatures on earth,” said the lion to the gazelle
“I killed the gazelle for the thrill of it” said the Lion….or rather no Lion ever. Perhaps the cat toys with the mice for entertainment, but there is a point in that only humans act in such self absorbed ways, which is why we are always out of balance with nature.
I was told by a guide in Kenya that the lions DO kill for fun…
I hope Mr Poof doesn’t need anyone to stuff their freakishly long arms inside him
Thank you for raising this Doha News. I have no doubt that the organisers are trying there best to keep these valuable animals healthy, but that doesn’t stop the trade. Apart from the cruelty to the four Dolphins performing, the trade in dolphins is abominable, you are only seeing the pretty face here. These creatures are here following the slaughter of the rest of their families. Dolphins are highly intelligent empathetic individuals, with tight knit families, just like people. They are corralled in nets then picked off, slaughtering the older animals, the nursing pups, any with scars or less than a pretty shape. Some are slaughtered in the water alongside their siblings and relatives, then hauled ashore to be butchered for meat, sold in Japan. The trade will only end when the millions of small voices of outrage create a scream which can no longer be ignored by Japan. Stop this spectacle and add your voice to the campaign. Visit Sea Shepherd, but be prepared to weep.
Just for informational purposes, the organizers told us these dolphins were bred in captivity – which in and of itself is debatable, but there was no killing or separating from families in this specific instance.
Thank you Shabina. Perhaps this is so, but they were still from the wild and the slaughter and capture continues as we speak. What would be truly amazing is if Qatar would take a stand against this abuse of creatures which Man is tasked to protect and nurture
While your point about the killing of dolphins for food in Japan is valid, seeing as to how the dolphins in question here were bred in captivity, I don’t think you can honestly link the two in any meaningful way.
Where do you think they came from? Bred in captivity for the purpose of performing in a tank, from captured dolphins. End this for Gods sake
Pretty much the same could be said about all domestic animals; they were all bred from wile ones.
these are generations from the local produce in sweet water pool in Russia. Their owner himself spends most of his day/night time staying with these beautiful animals – How an animal born in sweet, clean waters can survive in wild waters along with hundreds of other creatures when they have not known sea culture, water tides & many un-known life secrets of the oceans
Sweet clean water? They are from the open ocean not meant to live in tanks, You paint a fantasy of a loving owner nurturing his beloved pets- far from it they are kept for profit forced to learn tricks. They are meant to be free, they are not somehow better off away from unknown other creatures!
These creatures will go back in a days time as they are here for knowledge spreading among children & youngsters rather all age groups – to watch them how many people have got chance to enjoy their love for humans – learning skills
They go back to another concrete enclosure. Just because humans enjoy looking at them is not a reason to keep them in captivity
There is a documentary about this (The Cove, 2009), I’m sure you are aware of it already. I hear it is great and very educational (and ofcourse very sad) but I don’t know if I can bear to watch it.
Its better to have knowledge and then to please bring your views. First of all there are THREE dolphins and these dolphins are generation from earlier generation produced or took birth in a farm pool of Russia. These charming animals do not have any exposure of tides, salty waters of the sea & the deep sea creatures. Cruelty will be to send back these from sweet water to salty waters where there is NO training from birth how to live and survive alongwith other water creatures
You are so very wrong my friend.
Dolphins are one creature NOT diminishing or reducing any where – this is one marine animal which has tremendous population & there is NO threat to their lives.
As far as these three species are concerned visiting Qatar is having short stay – again they will go back to Russian sweet water pool or may pay short visit to other country
Horrible horrible horrible! Dolphins do not belong in captivity….
Where does the buck (pardon the pun) stop? Elephants, lions, camels, horses, sheep, cats, dogs, exotic fish?
Just playing devils advocate…
The buck stops with the methodology of acquiring these animals, who are highly intelligent, self aware and empathetic. The buck stops with stopping the trade in all non domesticated animals. The buck stops with stopping the systematic abuse and neglect of domestic animals that happens here in Qatar on a daily basis.
If you cant see that killing entire families to acquire one or two for spectator sports is wrong then follow this link.
I’ve heard highly intelligent – just how intelligent?
Well…compared to some humans…pretty intelligent!
Most research states that dolphin intelligence is only second to that of humans,
measured of course by what we deem as intelligence. Its brain size is larger
than ours and when using a size to body weight comparison, dolphin brains far
exceed that of any other animal except man. Given that dolphins have extra fat insulation,
if that is taken into the equation, the ratio is almost the same as that of
Neither do the millions of Asian expat slaves in Qatar!
The picture shows the baths that dolphins are usually transported in…looks pleasant (don’t know if they differ from the ones used to fly the animals from Russia). And here’s an article that talks about how they are captured and what they experience. Please don’t pay money for tickets that perpetuate a cycle of cruelty.
Tariq Ramadan has some interesting things to say on Islamic values and the mistreatment of animals: http://tariqramadan.com/english/2013/10/16/eid-al-adha-and-tiding-over-contradictions/
Looks like economy class on Fly Dubai
I was thinking RyanAir’s new fully flat first-class beds.
The cruelty of the local population towards animals is no secret.
I hate to disappoint you Daniel, but some of us do love animals and treat them well. In fact one young Qatari opened a vet clinic and rescue shelter a few years ago. A member of the central municipal council did try to push the gov’t to support qaws but it fizzled under the Ministry of Environment. It might surprise you that within the “local population” there are a variety of personalities, opinions, perspectives, and values (Gasp! Who would have thought?!).
Just because there isn’t any action from the government or there are idiots ( a lot it seems) who have no respect for an animal’s life, doesn’t mean the “local population is cruel towards animals”.
Don’t try explaining anything to him, His hate makes him only see what he wants to see.
Of course not all Qataris are cruel to animals but animal welfare is something which many are unare of .
I was replying to his comment which he specifically says that… if he said “some of the local population” or ” many of the local population seem” that would be more appropriate. Out of curiousity how do you know how many are unaware of it? It is very difficult to see a local who treats animals well unless you are a vet or inside their home. Mistreatment of street animals or ones abandoned catches attention more. There are also others who don’t necessarily like being around animals but won’t go and hurt them either. If you are referring to something specific like the souq waqif and pet shops, I agree with you many will be unaware if they havent seen it themselves.
You racism and ignorance is no secret either!
It isn’t a Local thing, abused and abandoned pets are also the victims of selfish expats who get a pet in Qatar then abandon it when they leave, or decide its too expensive, or simply get bored. Legislation and prosecution is needed, not blaming just Qataris
this is a horror show, not a form of entertainment. captured animals forced to be caged just for the greed of humans. Why would anyone take their children to see such a thing!
Maybe we can replace the Dolphins with performing expats
Dilbert must read Doha News too………….
Wild animals should not be used for entertainment! The practice leads to so much animal cruelty. If people are led by greed, the government should intervene to protect animal welfare by not allowing shows with live animals. What is going on at the souq right now is so sad and disappointing. When will Qatar take a stance for animal rights?
It is internationally recognized that captive animals for itinerary shows suffer mistreatment and miserable lives. Copied from Born Free Foundation: “Captive marine mammals live in small, sterile enclosures and are deprived of their natural activity level, social groups and interactions with their natural environment, and many captive marine mammals develop stereotypic behavior and/or aggression not known to occur in the wild. What we have learned from captive research is that orcas and dolphins are more intelligent than previously imagined, providing more evidence that a life in captivity is inhumane.”
Lana Group International, these animals are only business and they want money.
Seaworld animals belong to the oceans and seas not pools. They are not toy and are not meant to enjoy us!
The days of wild animals performing in captivity are gone as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately there are many countries that have not yet learnt respect for them and obviously Qatar is one. The US and it’s horrific SeaWorld is another.
Countries are made up of people. When people understand the issues then change will take place. We have an opportunity to make people think here, to challenge what is acceptable what us downright cruel and in my eyes haram. Qataris are kind people, they respect family respect bonds respect Life. Let’s just make sure that people here in Qatar know what the issues are, that cheap entertainment like this is as crude and distasteful as dogfighting, bearbaiting, cockfighting, it’s sanitised, disneyesque exploitation of those at our mercy. Shout about it
Don’t use animals for entertainment. That is not their natural habitat. Let dolphins be where they belong, in the sea. Please think again.
What is the point of this show? It cannot be entertainment to see wild animals kept in captivity and forced to perform silly tricks instead of swimming freely. It is heartbreaking to see a walrus in a hot country. That animal spends his life living on ice and in icy northern oceans. How cruel to keep him in this heat. It is very sad indeed that the organisers of the festival did not think instead of educating people about animals. The noise from this show has also been awful for residents of the Souk Waqif – how worse it must be for the dolphins and walrus who are forced to endure it every day for hours on end. This show should be stopped immediately. The organisers should then do what is best for the dolphins and the walrus.
this is a disgrace and just shows hows ill informed and ill educated the organisers and its supporters are. It does nothing to demonstrate respect to have these animals pended in side concrete. if there was not so much fear about the consequences for speaking out there would be loud protests at the souq and these shows…it needs to change for the welfare of people and the animals.
ABSOLUTELY SICKENING!!! LEAVE THE ANIMALS WHERE THEY BELONG AND TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT!!!! These are NOT toys we’re dealing with here. These are living animals, living beings. This is the natural world we’re destroying.
once done with animals, we can move on to human beings
SAVE THE DOLPHINS!! Boycott this!
” a nation awash with the abandoned and abused animals,” Yes, if only Qatar was more like the U.S., U.K., etc, where animals are not dumped and abandoned by the truck load, only to end up dying as road kill, eaten by bigger wild animals, or at animal shelters, where most end up put to death!
Qatar is a nation wash with abandoned and abused animals. That is a truth. The difference in US and UK is that it is illegal to cause suffering and to dump an animal. There are well supported organisations with salaried experts to rescue all types of animals. Given the size of those populations, the problem is tiny compared to here in Qatar. Countless volunteers try to deal with the hundreds of emaciated cats and dogs on the streets, many like me actually adopting a huge number, and paying to have others neutered , spayed, vaccinated and sheltered. Try visiting one, see the state of some of the rescued dogs, have a look at their facebook pages.
Performing animals are an obscenity, when the animals, in their natural environment roam thousands of miles in deep oceans, hunting, living in extended family groups. Putting such an animal who is highly intelligent and empathetic into a tiny tank so that hordes can gawp at it, who learn ZERO about the issues surrounding their capture and enslavement- for that is what it is, is immoral and inhumane. It says to those who go to watch that these animals re just disposable for their pleasure, ignoring the fundamental responsibility that Mankind has been given to care for animals.
You seem to suffer from a common problem among some expats in Qatar, which is that you choose to use a magnifying glass when looking at problem here in Qatar, while selectivity ignoring the facts about the same problem back home.
Do you have any actual facts and numbers to support the claims you make? Sorry, but I have argued with people like on this very topic, and not one of have been able to provide anything beyond anecdotal evidence to support these views, which, if I’m frank, I find to be quite racist and do not help the matter.
For starters, putting the U.S. and U.K. in the same basket when it comes to animal welfare shows ignorance of how the situation is different in each of these countries. While I have no problem believing that the animal welfare situation in the UK is better than it is in Qatar, the same cannot be said about the U.S.
Are you for example aware of the fact that, in the US, every year some 4 million cats and dogs are put to sleep at animal shelters there? Some are animals that were surrendered by there owners, often fro lame reasons like “I don’t have time” or “I’m going on vacation”! Many of the cats are ferals that were doing just fine living in the street, but since they’re not adoptable, they are put to sleep! That there are laws against abandoning animals, or so you claim, doesn’t stop people from doing so and getting away with it all the time.
Tell me, have you heard about the struggle of people there trying to care for stray cat colonies? There are many cases where people were sued by their neighbors or even the government for doing just that. Not to mention that killing street cats as a mean of control is perfectly legal in many parts of the U.S. too, or did you not know that?!
And while agree with people who say the conditions at pet shops at the souq need to be improved, or even close them, don’t kid yourself; the conditions at puppy mills in the U.S. are hardly any better, and guess what? They are legal and have their own association too!
As for Qatar, we have a government vet, which offers free sterilization (FREE!) for all cats and dogs, not to mention the team they have to capture and sterilize stray cats, all free of charge. Are all people in the U.K. and U.S. able to access such services? No!
So please, spare me your rhetoric about how bad it is here compared to back home, the facts are not on your side here.
so sad and horrifying news. The organizer should plan carefully to take care of dolphins. Their poor facility and lack of experience is torturing and killing dolphins!!!!!!!! If you wanna bring them this far, plan and do it the right way.
These dolphins may not survive in oceans or seas – their generation has NOT seen tides and deep sea waters – are produce of small pools in a Russian farm. Minor sicknesses are sen every where, in every home – NO one is escaped from these – SO NO WORRIES – if you like these specific dolphins to survive – Let them stay as they are
What I had mentioned earlier is on my personal investigation & interview. I do believe if these creatures are left in oceans will not be able to survive because they have no taste of saltish waters and do not know how to face tides and behavior of other marine creatures