Theme park boss says protesters were ‘talking rubbish’
A PROTEST by animal rights activists outside a popular Gold Coast theme park has been dubbed a fizzer by the park's boss.
The Animal Justice Party and Dolphin Freedom Fighters were among several organisations who held a protest to ban dolphin breeding opposite Sea World on Saturday.
Ninety-plus protesters held signs and chanted to boycott Sea World who they accuse of breeding dolphins to "perform humiliating circus-style tricks for a dwindling number of spectators" to make a profit.
Village Theme Parks chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa said the protest, in which Queensland Police attended, was a "non-event" and a "waste of everybody's time".
"There are 26 million people in Australia, and 40 people here protesting talking rubbish - and thousands of people enjoying Sea World. I think we can see where the sentiment of the country sits on this," Mr Randhawa said.
Mr Randhawa's account of the protest was in stark contrast to animal freedom organisation leaders who said the event had a "big turnout".
Animal Justice Party member for New South Wales Emma Hurst the group was supported by the Gold Coast community who joined the protest or cheered from their cars as they drove past.
"It went well. We did some chanting and had a lot of support from the community," Ms Hurst said.
"Most of the (protesters) were from the Gold Coast, however, there were a few people who drove down from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
"I spoke to a couple of women who are still campaigning 20 years later and nothing has changed.
"It's fantastic they still have that energy to throw behind this issue but I also share in their frustration that no action has been taken."
TOURISM bosses have slammed a group of animal rights activists for planning a large-scale protest outside a Gold Coast theme park as businesses struggle to shed the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dolphin Freedom Fighters is among several animal rights activist organisations that will meet across the road from Sea World on Saturday to protest against dolphin breeding in Queensland.
Organisers have accused Sea World of breeding dolphins to "perform humiliating circus-style tricks for a dwindling number of spectators" to make a profit.
Village Theme Parks chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa said the protest was a slap in the face to Sea World employees who dedicated their lives to marine conservation.
Mr Randhawa said those leading the protest were unqualified extremists who could potentially disrupt what should be a memorable day for visiting families.
"Last time there were activists who stormed into Sea World, our customers got quite irate, we had some customers try to hit them," Mr Randhawa said.
"It should be a beautiful day full of memories and it's not fair on hardworking mums and dads who are faced with a bunch of ignorant individuals spreading misinformation."
Destination Gold Coast chair Paul Donovan said Sea World employed thousands of locals and was a critical part of tourism in the city.
"A lot of these things are misguided because they (animal activists) don't really understand. They look from the outside in and don't understand what's going on."
Animal Justice Party member for New South Wales Emma Hurst is one of the key organisers of Saturday's protest and said Sea World could have avoided potential disruption if it agreed to talk about animal protection.
"There would be no reason to protest if the animals in this situation were being considered," Ms Hurst said.
"The Environment Minister introduced regulations that will effectively end the breeding of dolphins for the purpose of entertainment and will also block any new dolphinariums from setting up in NSW.
"That actually means Queensland now is the only state in Australia that is still breeding dolphins for captive entertainment.
"It came in following a parliamentary inquiry by our deputy chair and what we heard as evidence in that inquiry was that dolphinariums are a dying business model.
"A dolphin born into captivity today could live in captivity for up to 50 years. This means they could still be performing tricks in artificial pools in 2070."
Shadow Minister Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Sam O'Connor said the protest misrepresented Sea World which last year had "practically no revenue" and continued to rescue injured marine life.
"(Protest organisers) don't understand the importance that Sea World has to the Gold Coast and particularly the work they do for our local marine environment," Mr O'Connor said.
"The broader programs they run and awareness they run are such an important part of our city and it's something we should be proud of and that all Queenslanders should be proud of."
Gold Coast police said it was aware of an authorised protest planned for a marine-animal park at Main Beach.
"A lawful public assembly permit has been issued for a static congregation between 10am and
12pm," a police spokesman said.
"Police are working with organisers to ensure the activity is conducted safely and with minimum disruption to traffic. The Queensland Police Service supports lawful and peaceful protest and is committed to working with groups to plan and facilitate these activities."
Originally published as Theme park boss says protesters were 'talking rubbish'