Dolphins rescued from 'deplorable' conditions at Bali hotel

Four dolphins have been rescued from a Bali hotel, where they were performing tricks for tourists in "deplorable" conditions. 

One of the dolphins is blind - thought to be from chlorine toxicity - and also had teeth removed.

The incident has thrown the spotlight on animal abuses in Bali, a popular holiday spot for Australians. A recent report estimated 1500 animals - from tigers to turtles - are held in cruel conditions for the entertainment of tourists.

The Melka Hotel in northern Bali originally had five dolphins in their hotel pools, charging tourists to jump in and grab photos, as well as performing shows.

One of the dolphins died just days before a rescue attempt in August. Of the four remaining dolphins, only two were healthy enough to remove at the time, Rocky and Rambo. The other two required months of treatment.

The Dolphin Project, which spearheaded the rescue, described the dolphins as living in a "small filthy swimming pool".

The last two dolphins were finally rescued this week. Dewa had extensive cuts under his body, believed to be from performing a "beaching" trick, or being forced to jump out of the water up onto broken tiles. 

The other dolphin, Johnny, is understood to be blind - potentially from chlorine in the pool.

The pair have been taken to a specially designed sanctuary in the ocean. Without teeth - and other ongoing health issues - they may need to remain in the sanctuary for the rest of their life. 


The Dolphin Project said there was also three saltwater crocodiles, two leaf monkeys, several birds, snakes and porcupines removed from the property.

The Melka Hote was given permits by the Government to keep the dolphins - where they had been performing tricks for more than a decade. The hotel has been approached for comment.

A recent report by World Animal Protection (WAP) uncovered the dark side of tourism in Bali. 

It found widespread abuses of elephants, turtles, dolphins, orangutans and civets on the popular holiday island, visited by more than one million Australians in 2018.

The WAP report found 62 elephants were held in captivity on the island, many used for tourists rides. 

Riding elephants has come under the spotlight in recent years, after evidence of widespread torture. WAP says some elephants are beaten at a young age, in a process designed to break their soul, so they submit to humans. 

Forty-eight primates, 15 tigers, 300 sea turtles and 80 civet cats were also found in captivity. 

The authors of the report visited 26 animal attractions. In one, young orangutans were observed "clinging to each other in the absence of their mother as they were shampooed by their keeper, in preparation for their day-long photo-prop shift. Smelling fresh and wearing diapers to make sure the tourists don't get soiled, the orangutans were prodded and poked into position, and roughly chastised when they didn't behave as expected".

Indonesia also has travelling dolphin circuses, where the mammals are put in tiny tanks in the back of trucks and driven around the country to perform for locals in small pools. Dolphin welfare groups have been pressuring the government for years to ban the events, so far, without success.

The Dolphin Project supplied the pictures for this story. More info:

See also: Sea World on the Gold Coast hits back over TripAdvisor ban

See also: Seven animal experiences tourists should never do