Founded by Ric O’Barry in 1970, the Dolphin Project seeks to end dolphin captivity and slaughter around the world. O’Barry helped create the movie, “The Cove,” which exposed the horrible practice of dolphin drive hunts in Japan. Though less-publicized, similar atrocities also take place in Indonesia. What’s more, cruel traveling dolphin circuses operate in Indonesia with dozens of illegally captured dolphins kept in atrocious living conditions.
In 2016, Bently Foundation made a grant of $100,000 to fund a series of projects in Indonesia. Dolphin Project's #FreeBaliDolphins campaign in 2017 consisted of: billboards and motion graphics at Densapar airport; touring schools to teach over 12,000 children about dolphins and why they should remain free; touring with a surf competition; 50 businesses supporting the campaign by displaying leaflets and distributing flyers; 10,000 leaflets and 2,000 posters distributed or placed, and; working with street artists to paint 17 murals in prominent locations.
Dolphin Project toured the country protesting against the worst traveling dolphin circus and simultaneously contacted government officials to prevent permits being granted. The city of Balikpapan became the first in the country to ban all animal circus shows thanks to these efforts. They also collaborated with the National Police, Forestry Department, and other officials to discuss strengthening and enforcing national animal cruelty laws.
Dolphin Project built a dolphin educational center in Flores with 2 full time staff during 2017. They raised opposition to 4 different companies using captive dolphins for entertainment. They met with 2 local villages and government to discuss a limit or end to unsanctioned dolphin hunts, which marks the first time in history these villages have considered changing practices they have long justified as "traditional" or "subsistence" hunting (despite much evidence to the contrary). Finally, they completely renovated Camp Lumba Lumba sea pen where they house and rehabilitate rescued dolphins until they can be released back to the wild.
Update: In February of 2020, Dolphin Project was finally successful in their decade-long campaign trying to stop the cruelest traveling dolphin circus. The ministry of Environment and Forestry decided not to renew the circus' permits thanks in large part to this non-profit's multifaceted and continuous efforts.
Photos courtesy of Dolphin Project