12 April 2024

A Dolphin Plea in the Flemish Parliament

© Jo-Anne McArthur / Born Free Foundation / We Animals Media

On Wednesday 6 March 2024 Dr Jane Goodall and I gave a testimony on keeping dolphins in captivity for the Members of Parliament of the Flemish Animal Welfare Commission. I shared a video message of Dr. Goodall. Together we made a plea why the Flemish government should legally ban the keeping, breeding and importing of dolphins in Flanders. We argued that the remaining dolphins in the Boudewijn Seapark near Bruges should be retired in a seaside sanctuary. The animal advocacy group GAIA had suggested the Commission to invite both of us, for which we are grateful.

On Wednesday 20 March questions by Members of Parliament were answered. As the dolphinarium in Bruges may be allowed to further keep dolphins, with a new evaluation only taking place in 2037, we have written an open letter to the Members of Parliament, which has been endorsed by various marine mammal experts, ethicists and other animal advocates. Additional information on dolphins can be found here.

“Last Wednesday Koen Margodt gave a brilliant presentation in Brussels during the hearing before the Animal Welfare Committee of the Flemish Parliament. Koen spoke eloquently and well informed against the keeping of dolphins in captivity. Seven bottlenose dolphins are held imprisoned in the only dolphinarium of Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges. I listened to him with my mouth open. At the end of his presentation one word immediately popped up in my mind: SPLENDID! Koen was very convincing. And used the right tone of voice. Of all the speakers, including myself, undoubtedly Koen delivered best. The dolphins are blessed to have such an impressive advocate. The man was top. He made my day. Thank you so much, Koen, for a great job more than well done.

Yours in the struggle for what the dolphins deserve: to live a flourishing life in dignity.”

- Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA

Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA, and Koen Margodt in the Flemish Parliament.