Captive Dolphin Attacked A Trainer At The Miami Seaquarium Prompting Another USDA Investigation

SUNDANCE THE DOLPHIN

The Miami Seaquarium has once again made news after a USDA investigation discovered that a captive dolphin attacked a trainer, resulting in her hospitalization.

A video of a dolphin body slamming a trainer in the sea was shared on TikTok.

Sundance, the trainer’s dolphin, slammed into her three times and dragged her underwater at one point.

@scphoto_ky

A dolphin trainer was just attacked by Flipper. Police just arrived. 😦 #dolphinattack #miami #seaquarium

♬ original sound – SCPhoto_KY

The trainer struggled to free himself and swam to the pool’s edge.

“The recent news of a dolphin attacking a trainer at Miami Seaquarium is terrible and highlights how dolphins suffer for entertainment while putting workers in danger,” Nicole Barrantes, a wildlife campaign manager with World Animal Protection, stated.

Sundance and all other dolphins in captivity should be retired and released to a seaside sanctuary. This cruel industry must end.”

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A Dolphin Deemed ‘Too Fat’ To Perform Slammed His Head Against Tank Before Lonely Death

In 1996, Makaiko the Dolphin was driven from his pod in Japan and forced into a life of captivity – hauled from venue to venue in painful conditions and starved in a cruel bid to teach him tricks.

MAKAIKO

Driven mad by years of loneliness, Makaiko took to smacking against his tank in a heartbreaking act of self-harm.

Snatched from his family in 1996, the poor bottlenose was starved and forced to perform for human crowds – but ran out his final years alone after being deemed “too heavy” and “foolish”.

He died a lonely death some ten years ago after being snatched from a life in the sea with his 80-strong family pod – that were either murdered or taken too. No one noticed he had got tangled in a net at the dolphinarium and quietly drowned.

Makaiko  — meaning  “inner strength” — was born in 1996 in the waters of Taiji, Japan, where she socialised with other pods and spent carefree days playing and roaming the wide-open spaces of the Pacific Ocean.

His former trainer Lorena Kya Lopez recently opened up on his heartbreaking tale in a grim warning about the wildlife trade, which “subjects millions of wild animals to suffering every day”.

Born in 1996, Makaiko roamed free with other pods, playing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Taiji, Japan.

One day, however, the sound of motorboats approaching the group left mothers desperately scrambling to gather up their young.

Hunters threw down heavy nets, scooping up dolphins to harvest for their meat or to sell into the tourist entertainment industry.

“While the water turned red from the blood of the dolphins who tried to escape or were killed, Makaiko was lifted out of the water, unable to move in the net,” Lopez told World Animal Protection.

THE ANNUAL TAIJI DOLPHIN DRIVE HUNT

“Makaiko had been captured. And so began the rest of his life in captivity.”

Alongside his sister Kumiko, the young animal was sold to a dolphinarium in Japan.

During transportation, he was painfully laid out on a stretcher and sprayed with water to keep his skin from drying out.

It was days before the pair were given any food. When they finally arrived at their temporary home, Makaiko was put in a small tank treated with chemicals to keep it clean.

“It wasn’t until they went to the surface and people approached them and started throwing dead fish at them that they had a chance to eat,” explained Lopez.

“The dead fish were not as nutritious as the food they would normally get in the ocean, but at that point, it was better than nothing.”

The meals came with a catch – the trainers would only feed the dolphins if they obeyed orders to perform tricks.

Weak and disorientated, Makaiko learned to jump and pushed trainers around the tank for hours on end.

After 10 months, the siblings were suddenly moved into a pitch black transportation box. For over two days, they were unable to see anything.

Hauled out on to a stretcher, Makaiko was treated with a cream to stop his skin drying again, but he was left in agony – visibly bleeding.

Eventually, they landed at the Six Flags dolphin venue in Mexico, where Lopez first came across the distressed creatures.

Here, trainers continued to teach them the tricks they had struggled with in Japan, but Kumiko was depressed and sadly died soon after.

Makaiko was once again moved, this time to the island of Isla Mujeres.

While the tanks here were bigger, the dolphins were still given punishingly little food and Lopez took sympathy.

“I would always come back at night to give them some extra food so they wouldn’t be as hungry,” she said.

“The water was too warm, leading to skin irritations and fungus infections. The sun was too bright, causing skin burns.

“The dolphins were getting weaker each day.”

Concerned about the animals’ welfare, Lopez supported a rescue mission which failed.

MAKAIKO TRAGICALLY DIED ALONE – DESPITE CAMPAIGNS TO FREE HIM

The trainer was fired over her involvement and was only allowed to come back one more time to say goodbye to the dolphins, which was “one of the hardest days” of her life.

Distressed dolphin dumped for being ‘too fat’

For Makaiko, however, the stakes were even higher.

When it came time for his pod to be moved again, he was said to be a “foolish” performer who refused to listen to orders and was deemed too big and too heavy.

While the rest of the animals were transported to another island, he was left behind – increasingly lonely and depressed.

“He stayed alone for some time, without food, and with a growing sense of anxiety he started banging his head against the walls,” said Lopez.

“At some point, people would come in with dead fish, and to clean the water. This was the only time Makaiko wasn’t alone.”

Makaiko’s fortunes changes after an intervention by the Mexican government.

He was rescued and placed with a company called Aqua World, where Lopez was able to lead a rehabilitation process.

Yet the years of mistreatment had left a deep impression on the distressed dolphin, who continued to self-harm.

He was finally transported to Dolphin Discovery at Isla Mujeres, where he would see out the last four years of his life.

While he was able able to swim in the ocean once more, it was only in a confined area and he was required to perform for crowds again.

One day, following Tropical Storm Emily, tragedy struck.

“Nets had been put down due to the destruction and Makaiko got tangled up in them,” said Lopez.

“The people looking after them didn’t see any of this, so Makaiko died. He lay tangled up in the nets in the dolphin venue where he was exploited to entertain thousands of people.”

Image Credits: Rocio Cue

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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 www.theperfectpairdolphintrilogy.com.

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. https://www.theperfectpairdolphintrilogy.com/dr-simon-jr-adams-bsc-hons-bvms-mrcvs.html

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