A dolphin named "Jedol" waits to be sent to an open ocean pen in waters off Jeju Island, where she is undergoing preparatory training in an ocean pen before being released. Yonhap
By Nam Hyun-woo
A 13-year-old dolphin was moved to an open ocean cage in waters off Jeju Island Saturday for training to go back to the wild life after four-year long zoo life.
Veterinarians and officials at Seoul Grand Park Zoo, where the female dolphin had been at since 2009, transported it to offer care and to implant a positioning device.
The dolphin joined two other dolphins in the ocean pen in Jeju for adjustment training before being set free as early as next month. Experts believe that the three had lived together before being captured.
The dolphin, called "Jedol," is an Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and the species live in groups that can number in the hundreds. There are reportedly 110 such dolphins living near the waters off the Korean Peninsula.
The transport came as 425 days after Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon announced the release of the dolphin in March last year.
Eight months before the announcement, Seoul Grand Park Zoo suspended a dolphin show starring Jedol and two other dolphins over claims by activists that they were captured illegally.
The two others were excluded from the releasing plan since they were too weak and old.
There had been a controversy, however, that the cost of Jedol's transport, amounting to 751 million won ($672,145), is too expensive for being paid from Seoul city's tax revenue. The figure was equivalent to 486 folds of a 4-member South Korean family's minimum costs of living, 1.54 million won.
Calming the controversy, the costs for releasing the dolphin were raised through donations led by animal right activists.