Sunday Sep 5th, 2004 - Government has lifted the ban
against Ric O'Barry, the internationally renowned mammal specialist who
had joined the worldwide protest against the start of a Swim With The
Dolphins programme in Antigua.
Chief Immigration Officer, Col. Clyde Walker, confirmed
word of the lifting of the restrictions against O'Barry.
O'Barry was denied entry when he attempted to visit
Antigua on November 11th, 2001. An American Airlines supervisor in Miami
describes the action taken against O'Barry as "very strange" but
maintained that the airline had no choice but to comply with the orders
from the authorities in St. Johns. The Daily Observer reported in its
November 14th issue that O'Barry was banned for one reason and one reason
only, "the Government and Dolphin Fantasias did not want to hear what a
world-renowned expert had to say."
Col. Walker confirmed that O'Barry was "no longer banned
from Antigua and was welcomed to travel to the island." The removal of the
ban now clears the way for O'Barry to accept an invitation from ABITPC to
do a book signing and an educational lecture on his 43 years of working
with dolphins both in the wild and in captivity.
This was the plan back in 2001 when he was prevented by
the Bird administration.
Martha Watkins Gilkes of ABITPC says that she will now
invite the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) to join her organization in
reissuing their invitation to O'Barry to visit in early October. The 2001
ban raised questions about freedom of speech in Antigua. O'Barry was told
by a supervisor of American Airlines that his suitcase had already been
taken off the plane, and that he should not board another airline to make
the trip since he would face arrest and deportation by Antiguan
News of the lifting of the ban comes days after American
physician Dr. Graham Simpson admitted violating the US Trade embargo
against Cuba by buying wild dolphins for aquatic parks in the Caribbean.
Simpson said that he was negotiating a fine up to $70,000 US. "The fine is
a good thing," O'Barry says.
Richard O'Barry has worked both sides of the dolphin
street, the first 10 years with the dolphin captivity industry, the past
30 years against them. Working back in the 1960s for the Miami Seaquarium,
O'Barry captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who
played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV series of the same
name. When Cathy - the dolphin, who played Flipper most oof the time -
died in his arms, O'Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training
them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong. From that moment on, O'Barry
knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he
founded The Dolphin Project, dedicated to freeing captive dolphins that
were viable candidates and educating people throughout the world to the
plight of dolphins in captivity. Over the years he has released 24 captive
dolphins back into the wild. He launched a searing campaign against the
billion-dollar dolphin captivity industry, telling the public what was
really gong on at dolphin shows and dolphin swim programs and urging
people not to buy tickets to see the dolphins play the fool.
O'Barrys 43 years of experience with dolphins and his
first hand knowledge about the methods used to capture and train them has
taken him all over the world to participate in lectures and conferences
about the controversial dolphin captivity issue.
"The people who capture and confine dolphins are telling
the public they are doing it to teach the public respect for nature. This
is the hypocrisy that this industry is based upon. In reality, they're in
it for the money. Take it away and they'll quit treating dolphins like
this," O'Barrys says and adds: " Dolphins are free ranging, intelligent
and highly complex marine mammals. They belong in the oceans, not playing
the clown in our human schemes.”
To recognize his contribution, in 1991 O'Barry received
the Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the Committee for the
United National Environmental Program (US/UNEP). His book Behind the
Dolphin Smile was published in 1989. A second book, To Free a Dolphin, was
published in September 2000. Both are about his work and dedication.
Today, O'Barry is the Marine Mammal Specialist for ONE
VOICE, a leading French Animal protection organization that aims to stop
the capture, confinement and commercial exploitation of dolphins
worldwide. In July this year, ONE VOICE successfully persuaded the Haitian
government to confiscate and release six dolphins captured for a dolphin
Go on to Hamsters For
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