MANILA, Philippines – Days before Valentine’s Day, netizens blasted a marriage proposal in which the groom-to-be wrote “the question” on the body of a dolphin.
Ronaleen and Arthur’s wedding proposal was documented by photos posted on the Facebook page of Ocean Adventure Subic Bay. But after the album was besieged by angry comments, it was taken down.
Ocean Adventure, in an email to Rappler, explained that the proposal happened during an event hosted by the marine park.
“In January, a bottlenose dolphin named Zac participated in a Family Dolphin Experience that included a very special customized marriage proposal,” the park said.
The park also clarified that the white liquid used to “pop the question” was zinc oxide, a moisturizer and sunscreen that is safe for dolphins and is also used as moisturizer by humans.
“This is the same product we use to protect the skin of stranded whales and dolphins brought to our Dolphin Rescue Center. Animals that come in sick and injured often require people in the water with them around the clock to hold them afloat. During the day, zinc oxide is applied to the dolphin’s back to protect it from the harmful rays of the sun.”
Other mammal stranding networks use zinc oxide for stranded dolphins or dolphins which end up in shallow waters or beaches.
Despite this, netizens still reacted negatively to the proposal.
“Not only do you force these intelligent animals to live this way, you paint them too?” commented Facebook user Kira Baulesh.
“Shame on Ocean Adventure. This is not cute. You embarrass our culture,” put in Leonora Corate.
“Seriously this is so bad in taste and disrespectful,” said Vivus Loh.
But some Facebook users try to tone down the rage.
“Kayo naman, washable naman siguro yan! (You guys, that’s probably washable)” said Hapi Formentera.
“I’m pretty sure zinc oxide ang ginamit for writing. Parang sunscreen lang siya, nawe-wear-off din naman agad yan. (I’m pretty sure it was zinc oxide used for writing. It’s like sunscreen. It will wear off quickly.),” said Emz Kero Keroppi.
Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita Lim agrees that the amount of zinc oxide used in the writing will not really harm the dolphin but “common practice could lead to too much exposure and could harm both the dolphin and the environment,” she said in a text message to Rappler.
For this reason, she discourages marriage proposals like this.
“From an ethical point of view, it is simply not acceptable.”
Jom Acebes, a scientist working in humpback whale conservation, agrees.
“The issue here is not the safety of using zinc oxide but the ethics behind the act of using the dolphin as a living poster board…It compounds the issue of keeping dolphins in captivity for human entertainment,” she told Rappler.
AG Saño, mural artist and founder of Dolphins Love Freedom, also condemned the act: “Using a wild animal for human pleasure is unacceptable. That’s what that facility is all about: for human pleasure.”
Ocean Adventure Park prides itself in being the first open-water marine theme park in Southeast Asia. Marine parks have long claimed that they raise awareness about marine conservation, while at the same time providing entertainment for guests – a service they call “edutainment.” – Rappler.com
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