Paradise best Western Dililjan
Paradise Best Western in Dililjan, Armenia Best Western

A British charity has condemned the living conditions of two dolphins being held in captivity at a small hotel swimming pool facility in Armenia.

The animals are being used as "therapy dolphins" for small children at Best Western hotel in Dilijan, Armenia despite the cramped and unsuitable conditions.

Marine Connection, a conservation charity for dolphins and other marine life, says it is appalled at the plight of the pair which they have nicknamed the "Paradise Two".

Director Margaux Dodds said: "A swimming pool built for humans is no place for them. There is no benefit to children or others derived from swimming with them."

"The pool these dolphins are in is no more than an indoor pool which looks to have been built for human use. It is approximately 2ft at the shallowest and 8ft at the deepest – with no slide out area to allow for examination and no medical pool to isolate one of the animals should it become ill."

Best Western says it has removed its association with the dolphinarium which it says is run by a third party in a separate building. Marine Connection says the facility is "undeniably located directly below their bar and restaurant."

The two female dolphins are originally from Russia and appear to be on lease from the Morskaya Zvezda Dolphinarium in Sochi. Their import licence shows that they were "specimens that form part of a circus or other travelling exhibition"

Margaux Dodds said that the poor conditions mean the pair will have much shorter life spans as they are forced to swim in chlorinated water.

She added: "It is therefore probable that within a short time these dolphins will be forced to swim in murky water or be subjected to dangerous levels of chemicals to keep water clear for human participants.

"With countries around the world looking towards ending keeping these wide-ranging marine mammals in captivity, it is concerning to see an international hotel brand such as Best Western supporting their continued confinement for human use."

According to the Mirror, Best Western said said it is "opposed to the inhumane treatment of animals".