Dolphin Trainers Filmed Allegedly Abusing Animals At Marine Park
A video taken by the horrified neighbors of a marine park in Mallorca, Spain, allegedly shows trainers hitting, kicking and jumping on captive dolphins.
WARNING: Graphic content below
The video, shot at Marineland Mallorca, was posted to YouTube on Tuesday by the advocacy group SOSdelfines.
"A neighbor was disturbed about the yelling and hitting of the animals that she was hearing all the time, so she decided to film the park," Jennifer Berengueras of SOSdelfines told The Dodo. "The footage is a combination from sources inside and outside the park."
Berengueras said the sources witnessed training sessions that used violence and verbal abuse toward the dolphins. In the video, trainers can be heard yelling expletives.
Trainers yell things like: "Slacker, you are a slacker," "Touch the [expletive] ball," "I'll throw the bucket on your head" and "Are you stupid or are you pretending to be?"
The senior trainer in the film is reportedly José Luis Barbero, who worked at Marineland Mallorca until Friday. An employee at the park since the 1980s, he announced on his personal Facebook page that he had accepted a job as a trainer at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. The Georgia Aquarium did not immediately respond to The Dodo's request for comment. The Dodo has also reached out to Barbero for comment.
Barbero is a member of the International Marine Animal Trainer Association (IMATA) and even won the organization's "People's Choice" award and "Trained Show Behavior" award in 1990. Berengueras of SOSdelfines alleges that he is known for using violent methods to train the dolphins. IMATA did not immediately respond to The Dodo's request for comment.
In the European Union, a legal measure called the "Conditions of Cetacean Handling and Training" states that "All training programs [ ... ] must use a reward system, but never one of punishment."
Marineland Mallorca has already been notified of the video's existence. Rafael Abraham, the park's director, told Spanish news site 20Minutes that he is "shocked and embarrassed" by the content of the video because "they do not at all reflect what we do in Marineland."
"We have to carefully analyze the video and then take the steps we have to take," he said.
Marineland Mallorca disabled its Facebook page on Wednesday after there was a flood of negative comments. The park did not immediately respond to The Dodo's request for comment.