Bulgaria is one of the 15 EU member states keeping dolphins in captivity.
There is only one a dolphinarium in Bulgaria, the Festa Dolphinarium in Varna, with a reported eight bottlenose dolphins in captivity. Festa opened in 1984 when three bottlenose dolphins were imported from a Cuban dolphinarium after wild capture from the Caribbean Sea in Guatemala. Interestingly, the trade database held by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, includes no record of this trade, an example of poor reporting by these signatory countries to CITES.
There have since been five calves born at the Bulgarian dolphinarium, the two most recent calves born on the 27th August and the 3rd of September 2009. All of the dolphins at Festa are kept in small indoor pools with training and performances in public shows 6 days a week.
Bulgaria is the only country of the EU member states to have excluded dolphinaria from the requirements of the Zoos Directive, instead dolphinaria in Bulgaria are regulated by the legislation for circuses and theatrical performances. This removes the only mechanism available to protect these animals when they are in captivity. Bulgaria is Party to ACCOBAMS, Agreement of the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area.
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