A small group of animal rights activists staged a spectacular non-violent stunt on Saturday by jumping into the tank at the beginning of a dolphin show at Marineland in Antibes, France. Stunning the audience and causing panic in the stands, the activists exposed a serious security breach showing how unsafe and vulnerable the animals in the park are. Unprepared marine parc employees scrambled to entertain the crowd with platitudes on a speaker system while the activists were able to tread water and yell “liberate them!” for a full 20 minutes until they were calmly escorted out by security.
In a video posted by the group, which calls itself Black Angels Rises (that’s how they spell it), the activists can be seen running down from the stands, where they had bought seats and jumping into the water, unfurling anti-captivity banners amid boos and shouts of “get out!” from the audience. Once in the water, marine park employees scrambled awkwardly to spin what was actually happening — an extraordinarily well-prepared act of peaceful civil disobedience — a first at Marineland.
The group was protesting the captivity of wild animals for entertainment and profit, claiming the tanks and enclosures are not suitable for animals, nor are the tricks they are forced to do for food.
The embattled marine park made headlines last fall when a storm ravaged the area, causing many (Marineland never divulged an exact accounting of animal deaths or injuries) marine and land animals to die. The animals were not evacuated in time and were photographed suffering in mud-filled tanks at the park, which is being sued by several organizations for animal cruelty. Soon afterward, a star of the entertainment parc, an orca named Valentin, died of an alleged infection. Animal protection orgs called foul and claim that Valentin died because of his captivity.
In a statement by the park made on its Facebook page, management claimed that the activists had frightened the audience and put animals’ lives in danger. Yet, moments after the activists were escorted out, the show went on as usual, without any testing of the water, or any evacuation of ticket holders.
No animals or people were hurt during the protest except for one of the female activists, who was struck in the face by a spectator.
To pile on, every single animal protection organization in southern France showed up the next day, with over 700 activists. They stood outside the main gate of the marine park in searing heat, yelling for its executive director, Mr. Palu, to come out and meet them face to face. “Palu!” they taunted in unison, “Demission!” The activists are demanding the park stop exploiting animals and start finding a way to transfer their captives to sanctuaries.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the underground group Black Angels Rises took responsibility for the daring stunt in the largest dolphinarium in Europe, having named it, “Operation: Smile, You’re Mistreating Them,” stating they will continue these acts of civil disobedience until “all cages are empty and prisons closed forever.”
“100% of the animal slaves in this park are destined to die in it.”
“Animals are born free and have equal rights,” the group states on its Facebook page as well as, “we found the water to be very salty and chlorinated.” The group also states that “100% of the animal slaves in this park are destined to die in it.” They claim that their action has exposed park management for its gross negligence in protecting the animals there because of the ease with which they penetrated the tanks. “We did this just for the animals,” they wrote, “but imagine if someone wanted to hurt them or even the audience. They also let the animals in the tank five minutes after we were escorted out by police” — proof to the Balck Angels that Marineland didn’t make sure the water was safe for the dolphins before continuing the show.