Richard O’Barry, former board member of the Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary, founder of the Dolphin Project, convicted dolphin abuser, and The Dodo’s go-to guy on why SeaWorld dolphins can be returned to the wild.
Which one of those four things just doesn’t seem right?
Oh yes, the fact that Mr. O’Barry is a convicted animal abuser and both The Dodo and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) rely on his expert opinion when attacking SeaWorld feels like living in the Twilight Zone.
It’s like asking Ike Turner to head up a Criminal Domestic Violence task force.
PETA called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to send inspectors to SeaWorld San Diego to investigate the conditions of their ocras, dolphins and other animals to determine if the organization had violated the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Mr. O’Barry along with Dr. Heather Gally reported the “findings” in a PETA sponsored news conference.
It leaves one to wonder, why would anyone listen to a man who was convicted for breaking numerous laws under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act as an “expert” on marine mammals?
O’Barry was convicted of mistreating two dolphins in his care and then tossing them into the ocean when the authorities were coming to save them.
Like throwing away the evidence before the cops arrive. Except the evidence was two wonderful, living dolphins that could not survive on their own. They were fortunately found – malnourished and sick, begging for food.
So now, PETA and their mouthpiece at The Dodo expect you to see him as an authority on the proper treatment of cetaceans at any accredited marine facility.
It just doesn’t make sense. Heck even HSUS, an organization of high disdain, dissociated themselves from this guy.
The Humane Society withdrew their support for the Sanctuary and no longer believed that the personnel there were interested in pursuing a scientific approach to release.
But since they are holding him out as an expert, we thought it was important for the public to understand who it is that is telling them what they should believe.
The following are 12 key takeaways from the case against Richard O’Barry:
- “The Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary was to be a pioneer in developing protocols to return the captive dolphins to the wild.” The Sanctuary had been a home where previously captive dolphins could spend the remainder of their lives comfortably. All necessary legal release permits were to be be obtained from the National Marine Fisheries Service before any release occurs and every reasonable effort were to be made to acquire these permits.
- In 1994, the sanctuary received a total of six dolphins.
- In February of 1995 the NMFS denied the scientific research permit and relationships at the sanctuary began to unravel. After this, Good and O’Barry became more secretive about the sanctuaries operations.
- Outside members, consisting of well-known individuals in the marine mammal world, learned that the Ocean Reef Club dolphins had been allowed to swim in open water.
- By July 1995 the Board had removed Good and O’Barry.
- The two gentlemen filed a lawsuit against the sanctuary board and was settled with the agreement that all outside board members had to resign and that two of the dolphins would be returned to the Dolphin Alliance. The settlement did not state what would become of the remaining dolphins.
- Things fell apart at the sanctuary and O’Barry left. Good kept the dolphins in the lagoon in front of the hotel and began decreasing their food supply to see if they would leave the sanctuary.
- Concerned, O’Barry called the NMFS and APHIS to report this. However, he returned to the sanctuary to warn Good that someone was going to intervene.
- At this point, the two men decided that they were going to return two of the dolphins to the wild. They hired a film crew and on May 23, 1996, both dolphins were transported six miles offshore and thrown overboard.
- After a week, both of the dolphins were found, re-captured and examined by medical professionals.
- Dr. William Van Bonn and Dr. Gregory Bossart performed a medical examinations on the dolphins and stated that both were underweight, sleep deprived, had lacerations and needed immediate veterinary care. Dr. Bossart concluded, “that releasing these dolphins into the wild was inappropriate and should be considered inhumane.”
- The Secretary of Agriculture suspended the Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary’s Exhibitor License because it violated the Animal Welfare Act. APHIS concluded that they violated the act when they let the dolphins swim in open water and that they did not have a proper veterinary care program in place for the dolphins.
Note (just for kicks): O’Barry is calling on the same government agency (APHIS) that helped convict him (and he trashed) to investigate SeaWorld. The absurdity – it never ends.
Mr. O’Barry clearly did not have the dolphins best interests in mind when he called the film crew and threw the creatures to sea. The board members, concerned Floridians, and the U.S. government have all recognized and convicted this man as someone who disregards the welfare of animals. It is absolutely irresponsible to consider Mr. O’Barry’s advice, opinions, or knowledge of animal welfare as a source of expertise or truth.
For the full version of the case click here.