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Johni and Dewa in their new forever home!

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Johni and Dewa, while potentially not suitable candidates for release, have a permanent “forever home” where they can retire in peace and dignity.

Yesterday Westerlaken foundation assisted Dolphin Project, in conjunction with the Central Jakarta Forestry Department and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) to evacuate Johni and Dewa to the newly build dolphin sanctuary.

The Melka Hotel is officially out of the dolphin captivity business.

Nine weeks after we successfully confiscated two bottlenose dolphins, along with many other animals from the Melka Excelsior Hotel in Bali, Indonesia, the final two dolphins have now been removed from the facility.

Rocky and Rambo were first confiscated from a small and filthy swimming pool at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in Lovina, north Bali in August 2019. They were taken to Dolphin Lodge in Sanur, Bali, where they remain in quarantine. The healing process began almost immediately for both dolphins as soon as they touched down into natural seawater. Both dolphins appear to be in good health and will be carefully evaluated for possible release back into the wild.

Johni and Dewa, the final two dolphins at the Melka Hotel were not in good health. As it appeared unlikely these two dolphins would be candidates for release, during the last several weeks our team worked on the construction of a permanent sanctuary. The government granted us permission to build a large floating sea pen near the mouth of Bajul Bay, located in West Bali National Park where the water is calm and crystal clear. Once the facility had been completed, arrangements were made with the Forestry Department to transfer Johni and Dewa into their new home.

On October 8, our team consisting of Dolphin Project crew members, JAAN crew members, a JAAN veterinarian, and several Forestry Department staff members, assisted by Westerlaken Foundation as part of the JAAN team, gathered at the Melka Hotel. Dolphin trainers who worked at the hotel previously were also present to help with the transport. Once the dolphins were loaded into transport boxes, they were driven on a two-hour truck ride, followed by a short boat ride to the mouth of the bay. Dewa was the first to arrive at the sanctuary. It was an amazing movement when, at 11:48 a.m., he was introduced to real ocean water for the first time since his capture. At 12:00 p.m., Johnny joined him in the sea pen, and in the moments that followed, the two dolphins could be seen exploring their new surroundings. They were hungry after the journey, and ate the fresh fish we gave them.

For months, we tried to ease their suffering while they were languishing at the Melka Hotel, monitoring them and keeping them company. It was amazing to see them swimming, diving and checking things out in the sea pen. In the days to come, we expect Johnny and Dewa to investigate every inch of the sea pen as they settle into their new home. Never will they experience the barren concrete walls of a man made tank again.

With the closure of the dolphin exhibit at the Melka Hotel, things have changed for Johnny, Dewa, Rambo and Rocky. They will never again have to perform tricks for food rewards of dead fish, or experience the cramped living conditions of barren tanks. These dolphins have suffered tremendous cruelty during their time in captivity. Johnny is blind, possibly due to chlorine toxicity, and all of his teeth are missing. Dewa only has five teeth left, and his body is filled with bruises from jumping up against the broken tiles in his tank. All four dolphins are underweight. Although we may not be able to rehabilitate and release Johnny and Dewa, we are determined to give them lives filled with dignity, peace and quality.

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