"That was a poor husbandry decision," Naomi Rose, Ph.D., a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, told The Dodo. She added that, while SeaWorld frequently refuses to move its orcas to sea pens on the basis that they're too old and couldn't handle the move, they had no problem shipping the geriatric Commerson's across the country.
"Why did they move her?" Rose said. "Unless it was imperative for her welfare, it was a bad idea."
But Betsy's death is just the latest in the long string of deaths that defines SeaWorld's experience with the small, black and white Commerson's dolphins.
Back in November, The Dodo spoke to Sarah Fischbeck, a former SeaWorld diver, who said of all the animals she saw during her time at the company the fate of the little-known Commerson's dolphins was the saddest. "The reason you don't know about it is why they're suffering the most," she said.
Betsy was one of 12 Commerson's dolphins captured from the wild in 1983, when she was just a few months old. While SeaWorld originally hoped to make the playful dolphins their new stars, it was a disaster from the beginning. "It was like the standard of what not to do with Commerson's dolphins," Fischbeck said. "It's heartbreaking."