My nephew has cerebral palsy. He is confined to a wheelchair and is registered blind.
My sister recently brought him and his younger brother to visit us in the Algarve. The highlight of their holiday was to be a trip to Zoomarine.
My sister knows that disabled people are able to swim with the dolphins in Florida and was looking forward to being able to give her son that experience without the long flight over the Atlantic.
We tried to arrange this for them in advance of their arrival. Eventually, we were able to speak to the manager who explained that the dolphins require special training to be able to interact with people who are unable to swim or stand in the water.
He informed us that the park desired to do this but that the required investment had not been made given the current economic conditions.
We understand the pressure that the recession brings but contend that there would be a return on this investment from being able to be the only park in Europe to provide the opportunity for people with special needs to have an experience with dolphins first hand.
There have been reports in the English-speaking press that the Algarve is looking to improve services for disabled people to attract more of this type of tourist and a private residential holiday centre is being developed.
Zoomarine should lead the way in providing an attraction that will draw people with disabilities themselves or those who want to give a life changing experience to friends or family with disabilities.
We did visit Zoomarine and had a lovely day, which would have been made perfect by my nephew being able to interact with the dolphins.
We hope that this will be possible when they return next year.
We encourage others to contact Zoomarine in support of training the dolphins for people with special needs at [email protected]
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Editor’s note: Dear reader, thank you for your email. May I suggest you visit the following website – www.somewherespecial.org.uk It has been created by Algarve resident Rachel Shepherd. You may find it useful to get in contact with Rachel as she is extremely proactive when it comes to making the Algarve a better place for people with disabilities.