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Ric O'Barry Toronto Star

Ric O'Barry Toronto Star

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Published by: derrick_mcdonal778 on Oct 07, 2012
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10/07/2012

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10/7/12 Print Article1/2www.thestar.com/printarticle/1267663
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Dolphin crusader Ric O’Barry lends expertise toMarineland critics
Published on Friday October 05, 2012
Linda Diebel and Liam Casey
 
Staff reporters
 
It’s Friday and Ric O’Barry is on Japanese time. He’sexhausted but he’s giving the same talk about savingdolphins he’s delivered almost every day for the past40 years.The famed environmentalist talks fast, moves fast,thinks fast and knows more about the treatment of theworld’s dolphins — their capture, slaughter, life in thewild and “survival in captivity” — than almost anyoneon earth.He’s pushing 73 but, wearing a dapper polka-dottedscarf, navy blazer, jeans and Converse runners, looksand acts like a younger man. He’s so busy he barelygets time to visit his wife and 7-year-old daughter inDenmark.The founder of The Dolphin Project and star of the Academy Award-winning documentary
The Cove
about dolphin killing in Japan has devoted most of hisadult life to saving marine mammals. After 10 years astrainer on the 1960s TV show,
Flipper 
, he rejected thecaptive sea mammal industry forever.The results have taken a toll on him.“I like to use the word, ‘anguish,’ ” says O’Barry, describing his usual state of mind. He’s sitting on a bench at Queen’s Park, between a telephoneinterview with Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur and a press conference aboutMarineland, the Niagara Falls tourist attraction.“It’s because you can’t do anything about (your) thoughts, and it’s like pulling your hair out . . .“I’m probably crazy at this point.”Marineland is why he’s here. He says a Star series on the Niagara Falls tourist attraction brought him back to a place he first protested in 1991. Hesays he wasn’t surprised by the accounts to the Star of former trainers who blamed poor water and short-staffing on animal sickness and death.Marineland this week agreed to an external evaluation of its water management system and thorough update of its water management protocols in thewake of an investigation by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums.In a statement on Marineland’s website, marketing manager Ann Marie Rondinelli said this week “our primary concern continues to be providing a safeand healthy environment for our animals and a welcoming one for our guests.”The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is also investigating the facility. O’Barry calls on the public to stop buying tickets and thegovernment to stop encouraging school trips so children can see what he calls “the spectacle of domination.”Recently, a Belgian film crew visited marine parks throughout Florida and later asked O’Barry what he thought was wrong with them All it took, he explains, was a trip for the team to Key West, Fla., to experience the exuberance of dolphins in the wild to understand the lessons of captivity. There, they saw dolphins that roam 60 kilometres a day and surf for fish on the waves with members of their pod. All that he has witnessed brings him “heart-wrenching” moments when he is alone. He’s spent the last few months lobbying whalers in Denmark’sFaroe Islands, pushing to stop the savage slaughter and capture of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, and, over the Thanksgiving weekend, hitting Toronto andNiagara Falls to publicize conditions at Marineland.Sunday, he leads a protest at Marineland on the last weekend of the tourist season.
Dolphin Project founder Ric O'Barry visits Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday to lobby for the closing of Marineland'saquatic exhibits.DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR

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