Animal rights activists are upset after three live dolphins were shipped via FedEx from Honolulu to Arizona, but the organization that shipped the animals says it was safe and legal to do so.
The non-profit group Animal Rights Hawaii posted a cellphone video taken at a FedEx cargo warehouse at Honolulu Airport, where Dolphin Quest was about to have three dolphins flown aboard a chartered FedEx plane. While it doesn't show everything, it does show people around stretchers that are often used to transport dolphins.
"Do you have a permit to transfer these dolphins?" Alexis Thomas of Animal Rights Hawaii can be heard asking the group. "Can we see it?"
"I approached Dolphin Quest while they were doing the transfer and I asked if they had a permit to be transferring the animals because in the past there have been issues with that," Thomas said.
She added that she was concerned about the dolphins' welfare.
"The Dolphin Quest trainers were consoling the animal, who seemed to be in obvious distress, likely from the confinement of the box that it was in, of course, all of the noises that were happening, the fear of the unknown," she said.
"I've been with these animals since they were born," said Michelle Campbell, Vice President of Animals for Dolphin Quest. "They're second-generation dolphins under our care, and no one cares more about them than we do."
Campbell says the dolphins were being transported from Dolphin Quest's facility at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
NOAA said Dolphin Quest has the proper state and federal permits. The state Agriculture Department said one of its officials was on hand for the departure.
Animal Rights Hawaii posted the video on its Facebook page.
"I think it was definitely shocking for a lot of people to see that FedEx is transferring live animals in a box," said Thomas.
Dolphin Quest said while it doesn't transport animals often, they trust FedEx to do the job. "They're very experienced in doing such a move," said Campbell. "We've done this before with them in the past, and have really appreciated the collaboration."
The dolphins arrived safely in Phoenix Monday morning. They are now at a new dolphin aquarium near Scottsdale, which is set to open next month.