Gulfport Dolphin Prison Vigil Will Send Strong Message to Mayor

Gulfport Dolphin Prison Vigil Will Send Strong Message to Mayor

Contacts: Doll Stanley,, 662-809-4483; Elaine Adair,, 601-218-7729




GULFPORT, Miss. (November 7, 2017) – Mississippi animal activists are holding a vigil at Gulfport City Hall on Tuesday, November 7 to voice concerns for dolphins planned to be imprisoned in the new Mississippi Aquarium. The local advocates will present the Mayor with a local ordinance to ban the use of dolphins and whales within the city.

What: Vigil to Stop Dolphin Prison at City Council Meeting

When: Tuesday, November 7 at 5 pm

Where: Gulfport City Hall, 2309 15th Street Gulfport 39501

Who: Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes, In Defense of Animals, Animal Advocacy Initiative of Mississippi

Event info:

“Mississippi Aquarium’s plans swim against the tide of compassion with many states, cities, and nations taking steps to outlaw dolphin captivity,” said Mississippi Justice for Animals Campaigner Doll Stanley. “The world around us is outlawing the imprisonment of highly intelligent and sensitive animals, which makes the aquarium a highly risky investment for Gulfport. We urge Mayor Hewes to do the right thing and keep dolphins out of the Mississippi Aquarium and in the oceans where they belong.”

Over 195,000 people have spoken out against controversial plans to keep captive dolphins at the Mississippi Aquarium, which is under construction in Gulfport and slated to open in 2019. In Defense of Animals, Animal Advocacy Initiative of Mississippi, Born Free Foundation, Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Sonar are among 24 animal organizations that signed a letter to Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes and Gulfport Redevelopment Commission Chairperson, Carole Lynn Meadows advocating for the aquarium to not feature dolphins.

An Ordinance Prohibiting the Use of Cetaceans within Gulfport will be delivered on Tuesday which aims to prevent the ongoing use and abuse of dolphins and whales in captivity. The ordinance - sponsored by In Defense of Animals, Sonar, and the Animal Advocacy Initiative of Mississippi - would set a groundbreaking precedent by asserting dolphins’ right not to be used for entertainment, education or research.

Major public opposition has been building against the planned dolphin exhibit at the Mississippi Aquarium in recent months. Over 15,000 In Defense of Animals supporters have written to Hewes and Meadows since the plans were revealed. A former dolphin trainer at Gulfport’s Marine Life Oceanarium has amassed almost 180,000 supporters for her petition calling on Mississippi Governor Bryant not to redirect $17 million of BP deepwater drilling disaster restoration funds to build the Aquarium.

David Kimmel, Mississippi Aquarium President and CEO, is almost as controversial as the plan to display captive dolphins. Kimmel was formerly CEO of the Georgia Aquarium, a facility that was shamed on In Defense of Animals’ 10 Worst Tanks list owing to its deplorable conditions and numerous beluga whale deaths. Under Kimmel’s tenure, Georgia Aquarium made an extremely controversial attempt to capture and import 18 wild beluga whales from Russia.

While opposition to dolphin captivity grows in Mississippi, a sea-change is being felt across the country and around the world. SeaWorld ended orca breeding last year and announced that it is phasing out orca captivity in all three of its parks in Florida, Texas, and California. Last month, the Vancouver Aquarium was banned from keeping or breeding cetaceans, and now the Canadian Senate is considering a nationwide ban on cetacean captivity. France and India are among several countries that have put laws in place to protect dolphins and other cetaceans from being held captive in recent years.

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### NOTES ###

Petitions against a captive dolphin exhibit at the Mississippi Aquarium:

178,768 signatures:

8,465 signatures:

7,776 signatures:


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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 30-year history of fighting for animals, people and the environment through education, campaigns and hands-on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048


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