Depite the controversial New Years Eve rave at uShaka Marine World going ahead, advocacy groups say theyve made their point. File photo: Puri Devjee

Durban - A New Year’s Eve party being planned at uShaka Marine World has drawn criticism from advocacy groups who claim the park’s management may be putting profit before the welfare of its animals.

But the park says the rave will be far away enough not to affect the animals, and will be monitored during the event.

By Wednesday, a petition to try to stop the event had received almost 2 000 signatures from people all over the world.

Mia du Plessis, who launched the petition this week via the website, said the “rave” party, marketed as the “Bermuda Triangle”, would have three dance floors and feature 18 DJs. She said it was an ill-thought-out and negligent act on the part of uShaka Marine World.

Du Plessis said the park had 11 dolphins, and that dolphins in captivity are “denied the pleasures of freedom, have much higher mortality rates and are more susceptible to stress and subsequent disease or death”. “It is uShaka Marine World’s responsibility to limit such stress as much as humanly possible,” she claimed. “At present, they are failing to do just that.”

Du Plessis urged city authorities to step in and stop the event.

Lee Cahill, of the Johannesburg-based Advocacy Group, an independent, non-aligned civil society group, echoed the sentiments and said a party hosted by a marine protection organisation would be an anathema to what it stood for.

“Tellingly, its web team is also deleting objections to the event from its Facebook page as fast as they can be posted,” he said in an e-mail to the Daily News.

Sarah Brown, another concerned animal lover, said that if the event went on, it would represent a step backwards for animal welfare for the country.

But uShaka has defended the event, saying the main event where 500 people would go, was at Moyo’s Restaurant, a safe distance from the animals, and the side event with 250 people would be on the ship in which the aquarium and the Upperdeck restaurant are housed


“We will never allow any function to be held that may, in any way, be harmful to the animals,” said Judy Mann, chief executive of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research, the body that runs uShaka Sea World, which is part of the marine park.

“As has been done on previous occasions, the sound levels will be monitored throughout the evening by a senior uShaka Sea World staff member,” she said. “The speakers will be positioned indoors to ensure minimum sound spillover and the function at Upperdeck restaurant will end before 1am. The main dance floor will be outside the uShaka Sea World premises, at Moyo’s Restaurant.”

Mann said there would be no fireworks, because these were not allowed in the area under any circumstances.

“As we do with all functions, the animals will be monitored throughout the evening.”

Mann said the organisation took its responsibility to the animals exceptionally seriously, and their health and welfare was always a top priority.

Spokeswoman Ann Kuns said the comments posted on the Facebook page had been deleted because management preferred to engage in debate and discussion directly, and not over social media.

“People are welcome to approach us with their concerns. We’ve already received many e-mails on the issue.”

- Daily News