In 2013, the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA), local scientists, and government officials planned the release of five captive bottlenose dolphins—named Je-dol, Sampal, Chunsam, Taesan, and Boksoon—who had been illegally captured from a population living in the waters surrounding Jeju Island, South Korea. AWI’s Dr. Naomi Rose advised this effort, visiting South Korea twice at KAWA’s invitation to discuss the release plans.
The dolphins had been held in two different facilities, Pacific Land on Jeju and the Seoul Grand Zoo, from four to six years in concrete tanks and trained to perform silly circus tricks. Je-dol (a male), Sampal, and Chunsam were relocated to a sea pen on Jeju in April 2013 and, after careful rehabilitation, released in July. The remaining two were released exactly two years later from the same location.
All five have been seen swimming and socializing with wild dolphins in the ensuing months and years. Sampal was seen with a calf in April 2014; this past summer, Chunsam was seen with a newborn calf. Not only did these captive dolphins go home again, but they have successfully reproduced. AWI offers its hearty congratulations to the new moms and wishes them every success!