ZURICH, March 13 Switzerland's lower house
voted on Tuesday to ban the keeping of dolphins in zoo aquariums
or for entertainment purposes following the deaths last year of
three dolphins at a Swiss theme park.
The surprise vote was welcomed by Antoine Goetschel,
Switzerland's first "animal lawyer", who urged the upper house
to endorse the ban.
"I am pleased that keeping animals in this kind of way is
viewed across party lines as unacceptable and to be banned,"
Goetschel told Reuters. He is seen as a legal advocate for pets,
livestock and wildlife in the canton of Zurich.
The vote follows criticism from animal rights activists
following the death of three dolphins last year at Connyland, a
water theme park in Lipperswil, Switzerland.
Connyland has rejected local veterinary officials' finding
that the deaths were linked to antibiotics the dolphins were
being treated with, and maintained instead that the animals were
poisoned. A spokesman said the water park is pursuing its own
investigation through foreign experts into the cause of the
Connyland is the only theme park or zoo in Switzerland that
keeps dolphins. The curator of Zurich's zoo said that while the
zoo did not keep dolphins, it opposed a ban and favoured clearer
guidelines on keeping aquatic mammals.
Swiss non-profit group Ocean Care, which has pursued
criminal proceedings against Connyland over the dolphin deaths,
also welcomed the Swiss parliament's decision.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart)