I first watched The Cove after hearing about it from my sister Aisling about five years ago…obviously it tore my heart out.
I have always loved dolphins since a young age, even having posters of dolphins and whales covering my bedroom walls. The alarm clock that my parents got me was dolphin shaped and toys that boyfriends bought me were always dolphins!
Then I grew up some and became an actress/singer leaving behind my obsession with the ‘Big Blue’ for a while. Yet it was always there, my fascination, my love of animals, all animals. They always gravitated to me, dogs, cats, you name it! If it was hurt or sick, it was either in a box in my house or my Grandmother’s, being nursed back to health (many rabbits and birds were healed or lost) with my attempts to save them.
I moved to Hong Kong and I took my children to Ocean Park when they were old enough…I actually did the ‘Dolphin Experience’ there and was so delighted to be up that close to them, the focus of my childhood obsession. But, something wasn’t right.
When I watched ‘The Cove’ I never looked back, becoming an instant voice for dolphins.
Desperate to do something, anything to stop the plight of the dolphins, I began texting Ric O’Barry. I had so much admiration and respect for him and everything he represented, I wanted to help him all I could.
I started a group on Facebook called ‘Boycott Ocean Park’, which I then renamed as ‘Peace to the Big Blue’. Within the first week it reached a staggering 1,000 followers…I knew it was a sign.
When the opportunity arose to go to Taiji Japan and meet with Ric O’Barry and the Dolphin Project team, I booked my flight in a heartbeat, arriving in time for Dolphin Day Sept 1st 2014. It was incredible to work next to this man and I knew I had finally found my place in the world.
I went to Taiji again the same year, though alone this time, back to the infamous Cove and during my time there I truly “found myself”. Witnessing first hand the brutal drive hunts, seeing petrified dolphins beach themselves on the shore in a desperate panic to escape the dreaded banger boats. I tell you I grew up on that trip.
That stint is also where I formed a personal bond with the captive dolphins in the Taiji Whale Museum, you can see footage of me with them here. They responded so well to my singing to them, that I would go there every day to keep them company. They also comforted me on that lonely and incredibly tough trip. It made me realize the power of music and how it soothed and comforted these poor, miserable prisoners in that grimy, filthy tank. I have not looked back since.
My passion to help animals also continues in Thailand, my home, where I’m trying to help camps in Khao Sok to stop the “Ride on” option or elephant trekking. It’s a slow process, but one I am determined to succeed in. I’m attempting to show them that they can make more money from promoting eco-friendly tour options, such as “Washing the Elephants” or “Feeding the Elephants”…We will get there eventually, of that I am certain.
My goal doesn’t end there. I am desperately trying to help other animals here in Thailand, in particular a 13 year old Orangutan called Milo. She and I have struck up quite a bond during my visits and it breaks my heart to see her there in those horrid conditions. In addition to Milo, there are the five dolphins in the Nemo Dolphinarium, this fight is the hardest one of all but this does not deter me. I will not give up on any of them.
I believe that with respect, patience and careful planning, we can start to improve life for these animals. As it stands right now, animal welfare laws are basically non existent in Asia but hopefully, in time, we could see laws introduced that offer greater protection for them.
After all, if we can’t be their voice, then who can?
Milo is a 13 year old Orangutan who has spent her life in terrible conditions in Phuket Zoo, Thailand. She is a living in a dark concrete box that is closed with a roller blind, and gets no light. For the hours she is outside, she is forced to take photos with tourists wearing silly glasses and/or hats. She hates doing this, she sits with her arms folded and a fed up look on her face. On top of this, she is desperately overweight, and visibly depressed. She still has love and light in her, and deserves a far better life than the one she is living.
Please sign to help us get Milo out of there. Please sign the petition to save Milo »
19 Feb 2016 — We are now “Searching Milo”!
Yesterday the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division (NRECD) of the Royal Thai Police and Department of National Parks (DNP) agreed to investigate the case of Milo, agreeing to raid the zoo this morning. It was found by the regional wildlife office of the DNP that Milo was probably illegally kept at the Phuket Zoo as there was no orangutan legally registered at this location. This morning police officers entered the zoo, but DNP officials failed to show up.
After entering the zoo and visiting the living quarters of Milo, it was found that she had been removed. All her photos with tourists were also removed from the zoo and even were found deleted from the Phuket zoo website. I was personally present at the zoo on the moment of the police check today.
Edwin Wiek of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand was promised yesterday by authorities in Bangkok that legal action would be taken and Milo confiscated if she was found to be illegally kept at the zoo. He was assured that Milo was still on zoo grounds yesterday morning.
The owner of the zoo told the group of police and witnesses that he had released Milo into the Khao Phrateaw Non-hunting area, a small patch of rainforest on Phuket island. He further claimed that is were he found her 2 years ago.
20 Feb 2016 — “Milo has been found”!
Milo, the missing orangutan, who mysteriously vanished from the Phuket Zoo this week, has been found. Chief of the Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Office in Thalang, Piyawat Sukon, says, “We found the orangutan today after our team went searching”. Milo was found in a cage in the jungle near Paklok. Witnesses in the area reported suspicious behaviour which alerted wildlife officials to the area where Milo was found. From initial reports she appears to be in reasonable health and is being sent to Wildlife Conservation Office in Phang Nga Province.