Dolphinariums Don’t Just Break Dolphins, They Break People Too!

I am very proud that Protect All Wildlife has been chosen to publish a guest blog by the now retired dolphin trainer David  Capello, aka The Psychic Trainer, featured in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy Expose of abuse in UK dolphin training pens.


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Dolphinariums Don’t Just Break Dolphins, They Break People Too!

“Lies, deceit, corruption – to say nothing of cruelty. All facets of the lucrative captive cetacean industry. And I should know, because I was once a big part of it.

So, who am I?

I have several pseudonyms, my most popular being ‘Capello’, the most colourful being ‘The Psychic Trainer’. But there is another handle – one I’d rather remain unwritten, as my whistle-blowing return was never intended as self-promotion. Either way, I am the trainer featured in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy exposé, three books written under the fiction banner to avoid legal problems. A story now described by one discerning reviewer as ‘… fact stranger and more brutal than fiction!’ Yet, incredibly, all events chronicled are true, facts authenticated by original dolphin logbooks, long since thought destroyed. (A common Company practice on the death of a show dolphin.)




As you can imagine, my emergence with these logs has severely rattled the conglomerate and animal celebs involved in the story, resulting in a national UK media blackout. A cover-up that appears to have infiltrated the USA, after this award-winning exposé was controversially pulled from an over-subscribed summer reading programme by an unnamed US official. Desperate actions that beg the question, ‘Why are so many organisations, people and – now it would appear – governments so afraid of my story? Why are they so anxious to shut me up?’ Questions that can only be answered by reading the exposé itself.

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As for me, my involvement with the aqua circus began at the tender age of 17, when I landed what I believed to be my dream job – a naivety that saw me whisked away from family and friends, and deposited in the harsh confines of the UK dolphin training pens; a facility breaking raw dolphins for the commercial dolphinaria.

Always held in high esteem, trainers graduating from this establishment were known for being ‘hard-nosed’. Not surprising considering the daily horrors they inevitably witnessed – botched transports that left countless dolphins injured and even maimed. I personally witnessed air burns, a blinding and much, much worse, devastating for the dolphins that survived, because – as my pen colleagues always reminded me – many Atlanteans didn’t.

Working the pens was physically and mentally gruelling. Early training was always conducted lying belly down on wet platforms, so we could interact with our dolphin captives eye to eye. Fifteen-hour days were commonplace. Depriving the dolphins of sleep was an important method used to secure the quickfire results that management demanded.


It was here that I witnessed my first suicide dolphin – a phenomenon that the captive industry vehemently denies. It was also here where I learned to hand-catch in preparation for transports, veterinary treatments or force-feeds – the latter, horribly distressing.

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The Evidence Is DAMNING!

The force-feeds consisted of wrapping disinfected towel gags around the upper and lower jaws of the manually pinned-down dolphins, followed by physically pushing lubricated herring down into their throats to activate their swallowing mechanism. This nightmare was normally performed five fish at a time, punctuated by brief rest periods. Even so, this was not always successful, as the dolphins often vomited back their forced feed.

Much worse than the vomiting, however, was the unseen damage inflicted on the dolphins’ psyches, because once they’d undergone this torturous procedure, they were left vulnerable to what many pen trainers refer to as the ‘dolphin mind-set’, a mental condition that, once activated, proves difficult to reverse … suicide by self-starvation.

In fact, my only fond memory of the pens was Duchess and Herb’e (Flippa), my beloved Perfect Pair, for it was their brilliance that allowed the three of us to escape that hellhole and head to our first purpose-built dolphinarium.

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David with Duchess and Herb’e ~ The Perfect Pair


The rest, as they say, is history. Over the next three years, my two magnificent show dolphins took the aqua circus by storm, achieving the much-revered shadow ballet. Their story has been lovingly chronicled by the Holroyds in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy book series – a warts-and-all exposé that I pray will help bring down this horrendous industry.

As for me, once I’d made my decision to walk away from the aqua circus, I was never tempted to return, despite a lucrative offer to train Europe’s then only captive orca. My reason? I viewed my achievements not with pride, but with shame. Nevertheless, despite the attempted cover-up, my experiences are now a documented part of UK dolphinarium history – a tool to shine a light into the sinister and murky world of captive cetaceans.

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Thanks for listening and thank you, Paul (Protect All Wildlife), for giving me this platform. For more info, visit

David Capello

Only together are we strong”

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A review of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy by Dr Simon JR Adams, Bsc(Hons), BVMS, MRCVS, Independent Zoo & Wildlife Adviser.

Please SHARE to raise much-needed awareness to the cruelty that is dolphinariums. Please SUBSCRIBE for updates and news.  Thank you.

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Author: Protect All Wildlife Blog

"The Greatness Of A Nation And Its Moral Progress Can Be Judged By The Way Its Animals Are Treated" - Mahatma Gandhi I am a wildlife advocate and I am 100% dedicated to raising awareness about wildlife crime and its effect on the environment. Whether it be doing everything to stop poaching, calling for animal free circuses or ending the cruel treatment and exploitation of animals I will do everything I can to highlight it. I am the proud Patron of Miracle's Mission, a non-profit charity dedicated the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of sick, injured and disabled animals.

25 thoughts on “Dolphinariums Don’t Just Break Dolphins, They Break People Too!”

  1. If you want to know what really happens behind the walls of Dolphinariums these books are a MUST READ! I have never been so engrossed by a trilogy of books! I could not stop reading until each book was finished. I read each book in a day. These books can sometimes be a very difficult read due to the atrocities these precious beings had to endure, but also the anguish that Capello himself had to endure and still endures to this day. David and Tracy Holroyd with their writing style make you feel as though you are going through everything that Capello is experiencing. You actually feel like you are there at that time, at that place. The books are sometimes a gut-wrenching, very difficult read, they are well worth your time! One Dolphin in particular names Scouse really stole my heart and is with me everyday. These 3 books have made me a better advocate and activist for our great Atlanteans. I highly recommend you read all three books if you haven’t already. They will change how you view our atlanteans forever.

    Kathy Harrison
    Animal Activist

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Kathy, for this outstanding review of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy. Just as the books were often difficult to read, they were also heartbreaking to write. So many times in the writing, David Capello wept – and I wept with him. I, too, had a special place in my heart for Scouse. Knowing the fate of all these precious souls, I can only say, “No wonder they don’t want the public reading this story!”


  2. Thank you, Protect All Wildlife, for giving David Capello such a great platform. As the co-author of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy, I know all too well the trials and heartbreak that this extraordinary ex-trainer suffered in bringing you this expose. Yet despite the dirty tricks campaign waged against us, our drive to honour the memories of Capello’s beloved Atlanteans dragged us through. For it is our hope that the story of Duchess, Herb’e, Baby, Scouse, Bonnie and Clyde and others will change the way in which the public view the aqua circus. Thank you again for your outstanding support. Only by working together can we end this abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. With regard to the topic of cetacean captivity, I must admit that 10 years ago I was not even aware of it. I, like many other parents, have taken my two daughters when they were young to the Vancouver Aquarium to see the dolphins perform. If only I had known then what I know now. I came across the trilogy of books “The Perfect Pair” while I was scrolling around on my Facebook account. I had learned of dolphin captivity through Facebook prior to finding the trilogy books, but was still quite a “newbie” to the animal advocate/animal rights world. I bought the first of the trilogy, and was hooked. I have since read all three of the books, and have shared them with my family and friends. The honesty of the trainer, David Capello, was inspiring and refreshing to say the least. Dolphin captivity and the suffering of captive dolphins is not well known, even today. True, there are more people aware of what really goes on in dolphinariums today, but so many people are still uninformed. This trilogy of books is one of the best ways to spread the word about the horrors and brutality of cetacean captivity, and the more people that learn the real truth, the more people will stop attending dolphin shows as entertainment. I am forever thankful that I purchased these books, and I am forever grateful for David Capello’s honesty and truth regarding dolphin captivity. Tracy and David Holroyd are heroes for bringing this very informative trilogy of books to the public. Thank you Tracy Holroyd, David Holroyd and David Capello !!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When we embarked on our 6-year writing marathon to enlighten the public as to the horrors of global dolphinaria, it was never our intent to target activists as there seemed little point in preaching to the converted. The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy was written for people who had little or no idea of what truly goes on behind the closed doors of the aqua circus. That is why we were so delighted to hear that you not only read this story, but that you understood its message and chose to share it with family and friends. Truly uplifting. Thank you, Anita, for all your support and lovely comment.


  4. As human beings we know right from wrong, good from bad, too many of us also know what its like to live with mental pain, so why do some insist on inflicting it on others and other species?
    These dolphinariums and shows have no place in the 21st century, in fact an aquatic show can be seen through virtual reality goggles from the comfort of our own armchairs at home which carries no risk of any physical or mental illness to any other species, the only reason these places exist now are simply for exploitation purposes, making money is so important but the cost to these animals is far greater.
    Put yourself into their position and you will get only the idea of a fraction of the pain that these animals feel . Being torn away from your family at an early stage, sitting under tarpaulins watching your family and lifelong friends and mentors thrashing in pain, hearing their screams as they are brutally murdered, seeing their last breaths leave their bodies before being dragged away when you yourself is then taken to a strange place where you are forced to learn tricks for food, underfed, scared and alone… Heartbreaking to say the least.
    Some people can live knowing these facts, being able to go home and switch off to the animals pain, others, well it never leaves them, the feelings of helplessness knowing that they are a party to the misery often gets too overwhelming and the need to set those captives free takes priority over any amount of money in the bank at the end of the month.
    the captive industry needs to close down, give those in captivity some sense of freedom and peace. The damage that has been inflicted can never be reversed but more damage both mentally and physically can be avoided.
    its time to end this, time for the healing to begin.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you to David Copello, and to David Holroyd and my beautiful friend Tracy Holroyd for giving us the insight into the hidden background of the captive industry, our fight will continue in hopes that someday soon this cruelty will come to an end.
      I wish you all peace and love.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Like you, Shelley, we will never stop until the aqua circus is consigned to history – and the Taiji slaughter along with it. We will not rest until every Atlantean swims free. Thank you for all your support and everything you do for animals globally. And thank you, too, for your faith and friendship.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was over the moon to have finally received my long awaited copy of “Shards From The Mirror”, the final installment in “The Perfect Pair” trilogy.
    Having finished reading the third and final installment of three of the best books I have ever read, I will say that the writing continues to make them the most gripping and compelling reads, despite the heartbreak that unfolds with every page. I knew this would not have a happy ending, unfortunately.
    I had to force myself to take breaks so that the book would last otherwise it would have been over far too quickly as these are books that you want to finish in one sitting.
    My feelings at the end of the trilogy can only be described as angry/sad beyond belief and actually wanting to be physically violent towards certain “characters”.
    An absolute must-read.


  6. “Based on my personal experience with whales and dolphins in the wild and my observations of these magnificent animals in captivity, I believe there is no justification for allowing them to be used as performers in theme park shows and that breeding them in captivity to sustain a captive population solely for entertainment and profit is unacceptable. The concept of watching cetaceans perform tricks in theme parks is anti educational and is inhumane. These are animals that live in family pods for their whole lives with life spans similar to our own. Capturing whales and dolphins for entertainment and profit forces them to live in artificial families, in spaces that are insufficient, and rewards them with food for doing tricks they do not do in the wild.

    Today, we have the interactive film and video technology to show cetaceans in the wild to audiences around the world. For the amount of money a family spends to go to an animal park, they can have an on the water experience seeing whales in their natural environment. It is long past due for us as a thinking and caring human species to adopt and require practices that respect whales and respect their right to live in their natural wild environment.

    Anywhere on the planet we are connected to the ocean. We have the opportunity to do what needs to be done to protect our life support system and improve the quality of life not just of the marine environment – of the marine mammals — but for ourselves. This is the choice we have. If we protect the ocean, we protect ourselves.”

    ~ Jean-Michel Cousteau

    “There’s about as much educational benefit studying dolphins [and whales] in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary.”

    ~ Jacques Cousteau

    “Whales and dolphins, like chimpanzees, are highly intelligent and intensely social creatures, forming close emotional bonds between family and group members. I have watched them leap in the freedom of the ocean and feel deeply saddened and angered to see them in cruel captivity, swimming endlessly and hopelessly around their sterile concrete prisons. As David Kirby so eloquently documents in this timely work, whale and dolphin captivity only benefits the captors. It is impossible to read “Death at SeaWorld “ and come to any other conclusion.”

    ~ Dr. Jane Goodall

    “A Fall From Freedom” (the original “Blackfish”)


    “The tank is a bad thing.” Please listen to Ric O’Barry’s moving message regarding “The Cove” and Cathy (who was also known as “Flipper”):

    Dr. Paul Spong of OrcaLab: “Reasons to end cetacean captivity at aquariums and marine parks.”

    Dr. Ingrid Visser and John Hargrove (ex senior trainer) visit SeaWorld 10/7/15

    “Public opinion — and thus potential customers — are moving inexorably toward greater rights for animals and away from watching captives jump through hoops. The sooner SeaWorld accepts this market reality, the sooner one of San Diego’s great tourist attractions will stop sinking.” San Diego Union Tribune

    Deaths from captures/sales to marine parks:

    “In 1979, Kiska was forcibly taken from her mother off the coast of Iceland at roughly the age of 2. She was then taken to Marineland Canada to live in a concrete chlorinated tank. She has remained there ever since.

    Through the decades, Kiska has seen all of her tank mates either move from her or die. What’s more tragic is that Kiska has a 100% infant mortality rate.

    It has been scientifically demonstrated that orca are among the most intelligent, social and highly emotional species on this planet. Think about that. Especially if you’re a parent…..

    Kiska has lost 5 babies. One after the other. Her 1st calf was of “Unknown name”, her 2nd “Kanuck,” then “Hudson,” “Nova,” and finally “Athena.”

    Now, after all her tank mates have moved or died, after all her babies dead, Kiska is somehow left to continue to reside in entire isolation from other marine mammal. She is the ONLY captive killer whale who resides in entire seclusion this way. She does not even have a dolphin nor beluga with her.

    So, on this Mother’s Day, we think about KISKA and all the other animals taken from their mother’s in the name of human greed to entertain you. We think about Kiska’s calves and her now existence in solitude.

    “The Orca brain just screams out intelligence awareness. We took this tremendous brain and we put in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, what we found is just astounding. They’ve got a part in the brain that humans don’t have. A part of their brain has extended out right adjacent to their limbic system. The system processes emotions.

    The safest inference would be these are animals that have highly elaborated emotional lives. It’s becoming clear that dolphins and whales have a sense itself, a sense of social bonding that they’ve taken to another level much stronger, much more complex than other mammals including humans.

    We looked at mass strandings, the fact that they stand by each other. Everything about them is social, everything. It’s been suggested that their whole sense of self is distributed among the individuals in their group.” ~ Dr. Lori Marino (Blackfish)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for taking time to make comment, Nancy. All those illustrious names and quotes , yet dolphinaria and marine parks are springing up globally – Asia being the target market. Unfortunately, the dynasties that run these establishments are very powerful. Only by working together will we stand any chance of bringing them down.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Protect All Wildlife🙏🙏TYVM 🙏 🙏 it’s essential that people know the truth… David Capello💙🐬💙 I admire you so much, you stand on principle and it was not easy… You set an impeccable example in terms of the values that you hold dear🙏🙏THANK YOU 🙏🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Elena. This message is from David Capello himself: “Thank you for your kind words, Elena, give me a platform and I will give the captive industry and all those involved in it the worst press they could possibly imagine. I owe it to my beloved Atlanteans. RIP.


  9. A rare opportunity to follow a real-life former dolphin trainer behind the scenes, to share in exhilarating successes and to appreciate the trainer’s growing love and admiration for these remarkable creatures; entertaining, funny, honest but pulling no punches with regard to the darker side of the industry. The books detail the processes which culminate in the dazzling shows enjoyed, in blissful ignorance of the full story, by so many of us. The authors of these books help us to make an informed judgement on the rights and wrongs of marine parks and use of dolphins and other creatures as entertainment, by giving us that full story. We are shown the damaging psychological and physical effects of keeping these creatures captive; we are told of the extreme and often cruel measures then employed to deal with that damage and enable training and shows to continue. The trilogy is enjoyable, informative, authoritative and capable of changing perceptions. It changed mine, at any rate. Of interest to anyone who likes to know the truth, and a fitting tribute to the dolphin stars of the books; they deserve to have their story put into the public domain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Sandra, for this excellent review of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy. Your words leave me feeling proud to have been involved in such a ground-breaking piece of work. We truly believe that our books will change people’s perception of dolphins, whales and the aqua circus forever. The more people we are able to reach, the sooner our captive Atlaneteans will be free.


    1. Thank you for sharing the Capello blog, Nancy. This extraordinary ex-trainer certainly doesn’t pull his punches. Little wonder so many powerhouses are working to silence him. If widely read, this trainer’s story could spell the beginning of the end for the captive cetacean industry. Thank you again for your foresight. Let’s hope other follow your example.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The Perfect Pair left me heartbroken, furious and grieving for animals I never met. It’s been several years since I read the books and what happened to the Atlanteans haunts me still. What makes humans so special that we think we’re justified in inflicting this torture on any other living being? Through the Holroyd’s telling of Capello and his Atlanteans story, I became fully aware of the horrors of what is touted as entertainment. Who, having even an inkling of what goes on behind the scenes, can stay silent, thus tacitly consenting to this abuse? Sadly, cetaceans are not the only sentient beings who endure – because they have no choice – such cruelty in the spurious name of amusement. I will fight to the very end for an end to this archaic and barbaric industry.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this well-written appraisal of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy, Fran – and thank you for referring to the dolphins as Atlanteans. Because this is indeed what they are – the people of the sea. There is little doubt that this expose has had a profound effect on all who have read it. It has dared to go where others fear to tread. It’s very rare to find a top ex-pen trainer willing to blow the whistle, especially one like Capello, who pulls no punches in his narrative, which is the reason why the power houses involved in the aqua circus are working so hard to keep this story out of the public domain. Thank you again for taking time to share your thoughts with all who support this fantastic website.


  11. We could learn so much from the dolphins, if only we would stop commoditizing them and treat them with the respect they deserve as the non-human persons of the sea! We are soon to give machines self-awareness, why can’t we recognize it in this other species, which has a reputation for fraternizing with, even rescuing, our own? As David Capello and a small number of other brave trainers — Frank Robson, Ric O’Barry, Michael Greenwood — have discovered, dolphins are capable of reading the human mind and responding to pictures. The ramifications of this discovery have yet to be recognized by marine mammalogists, but time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Malcolm, author of “Wet Goddess”. Your understanding of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy and recognition of the dolphin mind connection is inspiring. We have been pushing this concept for years in the hope that the world will recognise dolphins as non-human persons. Your comment proves that you feel very much the same and that David Capello was not alone in his ability. Ex-trainers and dolphin handlers should come together to ram this non-human person message home. Only then will commercial whaling and dolphin slaughter be recognised for what it is … genocide!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are right, Tracy. The ancient Greeks said that a man who had killed a dolphin had committed such a great sin that he desecrated the temple at which he tried to cleanse himself. The dolphins are the only creature on this planet who go out of their way to save us; they may be able to tell us about USOs (Underwater Submerged Objects) and help us develop counter-strategies to the mind control used by the “alien” abductors.

        Liked by 1 person

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