Animal Writes
From 19 September 2004 Issue

O'Barry Ban Lifted
From The Scoop (newly launched regional Caribbean Newspaper)
Contributed by Ric O'Barry - [email protected]

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 authorities.

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 swim program.

Go on to Hamsters For Kerry
Return to 19 September 2004 Issue
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