In July last year, three Japanese aquaria, the Ishikawa
Prefectural Zoo, the
Kagoshima City Aquarium, and the Suma Aqualife Park applied for permits
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to capture up to 24 sea otters, 6 of
which were to
be sent to those aquaria for public display.
Opposing comments were submitted by animal protection
organizations from both
sides of the Pacific, including Earth Island Institute and ALIVE. In
August 15, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was informed that Ishikawa
Zoo was not the intended recipient of the sea otters. It turned out that
Rinkai Koen Aquarium, which was under construction at the time the
for the permit were submitted, was the sea otters' ultimate destination.
was completely omitted in the document, and although the Service was
clarify this matter with the applicant, no action was taken.
Despite the convincing arguments submitted by
organizations and notification on
the false presentation of a vital fact on official documents, the U.S.
Wildlife Service granted the permits for those three aquaria. This was
exactly 60 days (30-day public comment period, 30-day compilation of
and internal evaluation) after the announcement for the application had
made without even a public hearing.
This grant resulted in an illegal capture of a pregnant
female and the death of two
sea otters. 6 sea otters were transported from Alaska to Japan on
one of the two that were sent to the Kagoshima City Aquarium was found
the morning of October 5, then, another one that was sent to Ishikawa
Zoo died on October 9. Both aquaria admit that the long journey put
stress on sea otters, who are extremely sensitive and intelligent
that was what killed them.
Furthermore, on December 29, the female sea otter that
was sent to Ishikawa
Prefectral Zoo gave birth to a male sea otter. This made her about
pregnant at the time of capture and this was a clear violation of the
Mammal Protection Act. This information has also been passed on to the
and their immediate investigation is anxiously awaited.
Mark Berman, the program associate of Earth Island
Marine Mammal Project, comments that this whole thing is the proof that
marine mammals must remain in their natural habitat and not sold to
which only cause the sea otters early deaths.
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
300 Broadway #28
San Francisco CA
Phone 415-788-3666 ex. 146
ALIVE(All Life In A Viable Environment)
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