Today, Jedori the dolphin is returned to the sea off Seongsan Port, Seogwipo, Jeju-do where he was caught four years ago. I made the decision to release him as Seoul Mayor 425 days ago, the first decision of its kind made by the head of a local government in Asia.
The dolphin was caught in a fisher’s net in the sea off Seongsan Port in May 2009. He was trained and featured in shows held in Seoul Grand Park. In July 2011, people paid attention to him after it was known that he was caught illegally.
My decision to return him to the sea where he was caught drew the attention of the international media. It led to discussions on the right of animals or animal welfare, which was an unusual subject for the general public in this country. Animal experts in other countries paid visits to Korea to see Jedori. Many people all over the world approved of my decision to release the dolphin. In May 2012, environment activist Ric O’Barry, marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose at International Whaling Commission, and dolphin ecologist Samuel Hung paid a visit to Jedori in Seoul Grand Park and said, “The decision to return the dolphin to the sea should be acclaimed as a significant step for animal welfare.”
In November 2012, Dr. Jane Goodall, animal rights activist and conservationist, also paid a visit to Jedori and spoke of the decision to release Jedori as “a beautiful step taken for freedom.”
This morning, Operation Jedori’s Freedom will start. First of all, a stress test will be conducted. Then, he will leave on a 5-ton vibration-proof water tank lorry at 7:00 AM for Incheon Airport, where he will leave at 10:30 AM on a special flight to Jeju. His trainer will be at his side all the way to Jeju to help him feel less stress. A vet will also accompany him just in case. After the plane’s arrival at Jeju Airport at 11:40 AM, Jedori will be moved to a facility at Seongsan Port, Seogwipo. There, a satellite-based tracking device will be attached to him at 2:00. He will join other dolphins named D-38 and Chunsami, which have received adaptation training.
D-38 (a female estimated to be 10-12 years old) and Chunsami (a male estimated to be 13 years old) will be released together with Jedori. The schedule for the release of Jedori was decided by a 14-member committee consisting of environment activists, dolphin experts, scholars, relevant local government, Metropolitan council, and citizens’ representatives.
The air fare for Jedori’s transportation will be shouldered by Animal Korea, Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA), and Biodiversity Foundation as part of the funds raised.
A few hours later, Jedori will start a new life in the sea. I hope he will not be a victim of illegal fishing again.