‘Flipper’ trainer who flipped sides asks Filipinos to shun dolphin shows

Erika Sauler Philippine Daily Inquirer 15 Sep 12;

To help stop the violent capture of dolphins, boycott their shows.

A visiting American animal welfare activist on Friday urged Filipinos to stop patronizing theme parks with “stupid dolphin tricks,” while a fellow Singaporean advocate called on the government to return a batch of these imported marine mammals now in the country to the Solomon Islands.

Ric O’Barry, who once trained dolphins to be entertainers in the 1960s TV series “Flipper,” said Filipinos can help turn the tide against the slaughter of dolphins in Japan and their violent capture for shows that reap hefty profits for their organizers.

“If the Filipino people stop buying tickets to dolphin shows, it would be a peaceful, nonviolent way to solve the problem,” O’Barry said in a press conference in Manila.

“The solution lies with the consumers,” O’Barry said. “And if you are buying dolphin meat, you are adding to the demand side.”

From being a dolphin trainer for “Flipper,” O’Barry had a change of heart when one of his wards died in his arms. Since then, he has been helping environmental groups all over the world to end dolphin captivity.

This mission eventually led him to a part in the award-winning 2010 documentary “The Cove” which exposed the annual mass slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

Together with Earth Island Institute-Philippines regional director Trixie Concepcion, O’Barry recently visited Dolphin Island at Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park where six of the three rescued animals had reportedly died.

“We were made to believe that Dolphin Island was a rehabilitation facility where dolphins would be cared for and released as soon as they were fit to go. It is unfortunate that some businessmen are using the animals for dolphin swimming and feeding attractions,” Concepcion said.

Also at the press conference, Louis Ng of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society in Singapore called on the government “to do the right thing” and return to Solomon Islands the 25 dolphins being trained here for later transfer to Sentosa, Singapore.

Ng said the Solomon Islands, which bans the export of dolphins, will certainly welcome the animals, rehabilitate them and release them back to the wild.