A dolphin circus show in Kyrgyzstan has triggered the debate on animal cruelty in central Asia. Travelling dolphinariums are banned across the world, however, it is extremely popular in Kyrgyzstan.  The different forms of circus entertainment involving animals like lions and bear are still the biggest source of entertainment ignoring concerns about animal welfare.

Local activists, on the other hand, opposed the animal abuse and used internet to gather data and garner support for their cause.  Fifteen hundred people signed a petition demanding President Almazbek Atambayev to ban Moscow dolphin circus before its arrival in  Bishkek. People also showed their disapproval on the opening night by featuring pictures of weeping dolphins.

Anna Kirilenko of BIOM, an environmentalist non-profit organization based in Bishkek, has opposed the dolphin circus. She argued, “why has this dolphin circus ended up in Kyrgyzstan? Because it has nowhere else to go and we are a poor country with lax legislation.”

Over the past two years people have become more concerned about the cruelty shown to marine mammals in captivity. Reportedly, the Russian circus entertainment industry is growing rapidly despite of the worldwide concern over the safety of marine animals. There are several reports where dolphins have died in different accidents involving circus companies in Russia.

There was also a report of an accident involving a truck, transporting a travelling dolphinarium in St. Petersburg. In another accident a strong gust of wind carried away the inflatable roof of the Moscow travelling dolphinarium. Still another newspaper report confirmed that a hurricane damaged Moscow travelling dolphinorium’s inflatable arena top. It also swept away one of the walls, but the dolphinorium continued all its shows that day without repairing the wall.

Bishkek authorities, however, defended the show. The mayor’s office issued a statement which said, “dolphins love to be touched. Training and performances are a form of play for dolphins”.