03/26/2015 01:34 pm ET Updated Mar 26, 2015

WAZA, The World's Top Zoo Association, Allegedly Linked To Dolphin Slaughter In Japan

Animal welfare group Australia for Dolphins is suing the multibillion-dollar organization World Association for Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), alleging the group benefits from the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.

Australia for Dolphins CEO Sarah Lucas explained to HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski on Tuesday that a group of aquariums in Japan and Korea that are part of WAZA's network are violating the mega-organization's own standards by capturing dolphins in "horrific" ways.

"[WAZA] has a strict code of ethics, which prohibits its members from taking dolphins or any animals from using cruel methods, and WAZA has actually said that these drive hunts are one example of a cruel method," Lucas said.

The lawsuit alleges WAZA sanctioned a private deal with the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, who hired private fishermen to carry out the dolphin killings, The Guardian reported. WAZA has vehemently denied any participation in the Taiji dolphin killings on its website, writing:

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) strongly condemns the Taiji dolphin drive hunt that is inhumane and leads to the death of many dolphins. While the Taiji drive fisheries do not involve any WAZA institutional members, the Association is deeply concerned about this practice and is taking all action possible to help stop it.

Lucas said the torture dolphins experience includes loud noises that are strategically banged in the water to lure dolphins and whales into a shallow cove, where they're either killed using metal rods or selected for sale to aquariums.

"The dolphins go through a horrific selection process. They have to be separated from their families. The dolphins resist. It's common to see dolphins throwing themselves onto rocks or trying to escape the boats," Lucas explained. "Many dolphins actually die just in this process. And it’s this aquarium process which there are WAZA networks aquariums taking part in as purchasers."

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