Dolphin Defender Has Changed the Way the World Thinks

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.

We are reveling in the great news that the National Aquarium in Baltimore is sending all eight of the dolphins it once used in shows to a coastal sanctuary. But one man in particular should be credited with spearheading the mindset that led to this precedent-setting decision: Richard (“Ric”) O’Barry.

O’Barry was once the preeminent dolphin trainer in the world and brought the hit 1960s television show Flipper to the masses. Despite the success of the show, O’Barry’s life changed forever when one of the dolphins who played “Flipper” (there were five in all) died in his arms. He believes that she committed suicide.

On the first Earth Day, 1970, O’Barry launched the Dolphin Project to fight for these marine mammals. He starred in the Academy Award–winning documentary The Cove, which exposed Taiji, Japan’s, massive annual dolphin slaughter. Even in the face of strong resistance, he never gives up. He goes wherever he’s needed.

Ric O'Barry with Blackfish-themed race car carPhoto by Terran Baylor
Ric O’Barry with Blackfish-themed race car car

“I’m fighting [not] only for individual captive dolphins and dolphins in general but also for people, for the mind and sensibilities of future generations toward the world itself.”

O’Barry has dedicated his life to bringing relief to captive dolphins all over the world, whether they are languishing in fetid pools or spending their lives in servitude in “swim-with” programs.

As PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in her book, One Can Make a Difference, every voice, every action, matters. Very few have exemplified this better than Ric O’Barry.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind