Half of Betsy's group was dead within a year, some of them within days. Around 2000, SeaWorld San Diego sent a group of four young Commerson's who had been born at the park to a now-closed SeaWorld Ohio location. All four were dead within a year.
In 2004 SeaWorld brought in another wild-caught Commerson's from Germany. At 30 years old, Jogi was the only survivor of a group of 10 Commerson's taken from the wild, and had survived decades in captivity. Once at SeaWorld, he died within months.
The company tried to breed the dwindling wild-caught population, but artificial insemination didn't work well "because when they'd go to jack them off they'd get urine and semen samples, and the urine would cancel out the semen," Fischbeck said. The natural births were equally disastrous. Some were stillborn; others lived just a few years.
By 2008, they had seven left, Fischbeck said. SeaWorld sent four males to their Aquatica park in Florida; in 2014, two of them died within weeks of each other.
"In less than 30 years they've killed off 20 Commerson's dolphins," Fischbeck said. "The average lifespan at SeaWorld is 8 years."
By the end of Fischbeck's time at SeaWorld San Diego, Betsy had only two companions left: Juan, the only other survivor of the 12 wild-caught Commerson's, and Ringer, Juan's daughter.
Since the park had sent the viable mates for Ringer to Orlando, she began to mate with Juan. "While working there I saw two of her births," Fischbeck said. "One died shortly, like in two to three days. The other was stillborn. It was her father's daughter."
A pod of Commerson's dolphins in the wild. Flickr/ravas51