DOLPHINS ?ARE UNDER STRESS
By MEL MARTIN
PET Porpoise Pool operators have rejected claims their star performers are overworked after silent protesters demanded on Saturday the animals be tested for signs of stress.
A group of shareholders and community members, including Pet Porpoise Pool founder Hec Goodall, are accusing the facility's management of working the animals too hard and failing to adequately monitor stress levels.
"During peak times, the Pet Porpoise Pool has increased its shows from two to three per day, as well as swim interactions," Dane Armstrong, a seal trainer, who worked at the facility for more than eight years, said.
"We want an independent body to test blood cortisol levels, which is the recognised indication for stress, to determine the animals' stress levels.
"But to get an accurate baseline reading, the animals would first have to be taken off the shows for two to three weeks."
Mr Armstrong says he has seen signs of stress in the animals at the pool, but the accusations have angered the pool's operators.
"Our animals are our number one priority, because without them we have nothing," chief executive officer Paige Sinclair said.
"The shows have gone from two 1.5-hour shows to three 40-minute shows which is less work on the animals."
She added the number of tasks had been reduced during the shows, taking up about 10 to 15 minutes of each animal's time, and that swim interactions were now less strenuous.
Veterinarian Vicky McClure, who cares for the pool's animals, said that while no blood cortisol levels were tested, she did test white blood cells, which gave an indication of stress levels.
The angry shareholders also claim a sale of the business for residential development may be imminent, but Pet Porpoise Pool board chairman John Ward says there is no intentions to sell.