The city of Bruges is considering legal action against the Boudewijn Seapark animal attraction, after a Facebook post in which the park offered photo-shoots with its dolphins. The post suggested the photo-shoots as a gift for St Valentine’s Day later this month. It featured a young blonde woman stroking a dolphin, the two of them surrounded by love-hearts.
Sammy Roelant, a former member of the city council, wondered whether the police should not file a complaint for mistreatment of animals. In a letter to city councillor Mathijs Goderis he explained: “Dolphins are more sensitive to touch that humans. Touch can cause a risk of skin damage, and more importantly the stretching gesture when trying to stroke a dolphin can be interpreted as a threatening attack, so this is also not a good idea from a safety point of view.”
“I was also shocked,” said Goderis. “This cannot be justified. The park falls under the 1998 law on recognition of zoos which advises to avoid contact with the animals, unless for a limited period and under supervision.”
The city council, he said, would be contacting the park as well as the Flemish government’s environment department. “The police can only be called in for cases of serious neglect or abuse. I’m not asking for the park to be closed down, but I am calling for an end to this sort of circus act.”
In the meantime, the Seapark has deleted its Facebook post, but the offer of a photo session with the dolphins for 100 euros is still open, a spokesperson for the park said.