Activists clash with member of public at Dolphin Park fundraiser

Animal activists protesting outside Coffs Harbour’s Dolphin Marine Conservation Park.

POLICE are investigating after a member of the public allegedly clashed with animal rights activists outside Coffs Harbour’s Dolphin Marine Conservation Park on Sunday 20 August.

On the day of the incident, the Dolphin Park was holding a ‘Community Fun Raiser’ to keep the educational, research, rehabilitation and rescue facility open, amid fears it will close.

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A NSW Police spokesperson told News Of The Area, “Officers attached to Coffs Clarence Police District are investigating an alleged assault outside a marine centre on Orlando Street, Coffs Harbour.

“Police were told that about 3.30pm on Sunday 20 August 2023, an unknown man approached a group of people outside the marine centre before allegedly assaulting them and damaging personal property.

“The man then allegedly fled the scene, after which the group reported the incident to local police.”

In a video of the alleged incident shared to social media, a man in a red polo shirt can be seen arguing with the gathered activists.

The member of the public is then involved in several physical altercations with the protestors.

Bailey Mason, one of the protesters on-site at the Dolphin Park, said the activists finished their protest “scared and in tears” after the alleged attack.

“The dolphins urgently need to be released to a large sea pen sanctuary because the small pools are cruel.

“There has always been hostility by the opposing side but never anything as violent as this attack,” Bailey said.

Despite the alleged attack, protester Sophie said she “will not stop until the dolphins are retired to a sea sanctuary”.

“Dolphin captivity is outdated, and the park will not overcome its financial troubles for as long as its animals are kept in small concrete tanks,” she said.

The activists plan to ramp up the protests, aimed at ending dolphin shows and retiring performing animals to a more natural environment.

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park Managing Director Terry Goodall told News Of The Area the incident “put a dampener” on a “fun family day”.

“I did not witness the incident, but after viewing a video, I believe the aggressiveness on both sides was unnecessary,” Terry said.

“We do not condone or tolerate violence or aggressiveness in any form.

“People have a right to protest peacefully, but it was incredibly disappointing and upsetting to see our visitors, many families with young children, harassed and yelled at by zealous activists as they entered and left our fundraising event.

“I received complaints from numerous guests about the protesters’ unnecessary and aggressive behaviour,” he said.

The fundraising event attracted hundreds of guests and raised over $12,000 towards the Save Our Park fund for Coffs Harbour’s Dolphin Marine Conservation Park.

Fundraising efforts have raised just over $102,000 for the park.


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