Miami Seaquarium or Seaprison  
Lolita alone at the Miami Seaquarium


Ric O'Barry
Famous "Flipper" Trainer
Richard O'Barry has worked both sides of the dolphin street, the first 10 years with the dolphin captivity industry, the past 30 against them. Ric O'Barry and Flipper at Seaquarium
©Dolphin Project

Working back in the 1960s for Miami Seaquarium, O'Barry captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. When Cathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O'Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he founded the Dolphin Project, dedicated to freeing captive dolphins who were viable candidates and educating people throughout the world to the plight of dolphins in captivity. Over the years he freed 14 dolphins. He launched a searing campaign against the billion dollar dolphin captivity industry, telling the public what was really going on at dolphin shows and urging people not to buy tickets to see dolphins play the fool.

Dolphin release Ric O'Barry
©David Higgs
O’Barry’s 40 years of experience with dolphins and his firsthand knowledge about the methods used to capture and train them has taken him all over the world to participate in lectures and conferences about the controversial dolphin captivity issue.

As O'Barry knew it would, this created a lot of hostility toward him by those who stood to profit from the continued exploitation of dolphins.

"They're in this for money. Take it away, and they'll quit doing this," O’Barry says and adds: "Dolphins are free-ranging, intelligent, and complex wild animals, and they belong in the oceans, not playing the clown in our human schemes."

To recognize his contribution, in 1991 O’Barry received the "Environmental Achievement Award" presented by the Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program (US/UNEP).

His book "Behind the Dolphin Smile" was published in 1989, a second book, "To Free A Dolphin" was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication.

Since January 2001 O'Barry has worked as Wildlife Consultant for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the world’s largest network of animal protection organizations, representing more than 400 member organizations in 91 countries. WSPA’s latest dolphin rescue operation took place with the rehabilitation and release of two dolphins in Guatemala in the summer of 2001.

©David HiggsRic O'Barry
Sea lion at Miami Seaquarium

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