Marineland seals' future uncertain

Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012

SAVE ME: The Conservation Department favours relocating the remaining seals, sea lions and birds from the closed Napier Marineland.

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The fate of 11 seals and sea lions hangs in the balance while Napier City Council and the Conservation Department decide what to do with Marineland's few remaining animals.

The council moved Marineland's little penguins into a purpose-built home at the National Aquarium earlier this month, leaving behind six New Zealand fur seals, four Californian sea lions, one subantarctic seal and some marine birds.

Earlier this year, a High Court ruling upheld the council's decision to close the attraction, which shut in April 2009.

Council chief executive Neil Taylor said the council was in the "early stages" of working through what would happen to the animals. It had to shelve discussions on the future of the Marineland site and animals while it was before the court.

Mr Taylor said all options would be explored. Nothing had been ruled out, and euthanasing the seals was also a possibility.

"Nothing has been predetermined. All options are options," Mr Taylor said.

He did not know how long a decision would take.

Conservation Department area manager Chris Lester said relocating the animals to another facility such as Auckland Zoo or an Australian animal park was the preferred option.

"We will make decisions within existing statutory parameters together to ensure highest standards of animal welfare."

The closed Marineland site could be transformed into a cable-ski park if the council's proposal to transform Napier's foreshore into a "kids capital" got financial backing.

If private investors stump up, visitors will enjoy a new wave garden, BMX jump park and New Zealand's first cable-ski park, in addition to the already approved bike track for juniors, recreation and water area, playground extension and a stormwater pier.

Despite this, Friends of Marineland had not given up its fight to save the attraction, spokesman Cliff Church said. The council had won the legal battle but the group still believed the council had acted immorally in closing it down.

Mr Church said the group was continuing its push to save Marineland because it was what the public wanted. The group had raised about $800,000 should the council reconsider its decision to close the attraction.

Contact Tracey Chatterton
Hawke's Bay reporter
Twitter: @trackchatt

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- The Dominion Post


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