Finland is one of the fifteen EU member states keeping dolphins in captivity. There is currently one dolphinarium in Finland, Särkänniemi Adventure Park (also known as Tampereen Särkänniemi), reportedly holding five captive bottlenose dolphins, three of which are wild-caught and two were bred at the park. The park originally had 6 wild-caught dolphins imported in1984. Sadly one died just three weeks after transfer and another two have died since, leaving the 3 that still perform in the park’s shows. Unfortunately the import of these wild-caught bottlenose dolphins into Finland was never recorded in the CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) trade database, an example of poor reporting by some signatory countries to CITES. Finland has now prohibited the import of further wild-caught dolphins.
The park has had a number of reported problems with captive breeding, of a total of 15 calves born between 1990 and 2010,only two have survived. The local Animalia, a Federation for the Protection of Animals, is calling, along with many others, for an end to breeding at the park due to the number of deaths involving new born calves. Many of the calves have reportedly died as a result of premature birth and one of the female dolphins at the park reportedly has problems with her pelvis but cruelly is still used for breeding purposes.
The dolphinarium is covered by Finland’s national zoo law implementing Council Directive 1999/22 and Finland also has specific standards for the keeping of dolphins in captivity which form part of the Animal Welfare Act of 1996. The standards set minimum requirements for water quality, pool surface area, depth and volume for a specified number of cetaceans, reproduction pools and noise levels.
In 2010 Finland’s capital city, Helsinki, hosted a conference that established a Declaration of Rights for Whales and Dolphins, concluding that “No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment,”
Finland is a Party to ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas) which aims to maintain and achieve favourable conservation status for small cetaceans throughout the agreement area.