Aquariums in Korea will be banned from purchasing new cetaceans for display starting this week, officials said Wednesday, as animal rights activists have called for the release of whales and dolphins in captivity.
The announcement came after the country revised the act on the management of zoos and aquariums, which will come into effect starting Thursday, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
The revision centers on prohibiting local aquariums from acquiring new whales and dolphins for display. Additionally, it forbids these facilities from allowing visitors to ride, touch or feed these marine mammals.
Korea also made it mandatory to win state approval to open an aquarium, with the existing facilities required to meet the criteria within five years.
The revised act provides specific guidelines regarding the procedures and schedules for conducting routine medical examinations on captive species within aquariums as well.
“We plan to proactively advertise the changes to ensure their smooth implementation, while maintaining cooperation with the aquarium industry,” Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan said.
Currently, there are 16 dolphins and five beluga whales at local aquariums. (Yonhap)