Marine Mammals Lose Great Friend Mark Berman, ‘The Bermanator’

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2 min read

PETA Vice President Lisa Lange reflects on three decades of working together with activist Mark Berman in pursuit of freedom for captive whales and dolphins:

“I first met Mark Berman about 30 years ago while we were working to get the dolphins out of a pool at The Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. He worked for the International Marine Mammal Project of the Earth Island Institute and was smart and strategic and also knew all about the laws and the individual animals. He taught me a lot. Mark was a very gentle soul. All he wanted to do was help. Over the years, I got to know him very well as we protested several marine-mammal captivity parks together, and he helped PETA defeat the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s plans to build a dolphinarium.”

Mark with Keiko.
Mark with Keiko.


“He dedicated his life to ending captivity for these majestic animals and for elephants and sharks as well. He helped block imports of dolphins into the U.S., persuade South Carolina to ban dolphin captivity, and end dolphin hunts in the Solomon Islands, and he got marine-mammal enclosures shut down and plans for new ones canceled. His unfailing determination earned him the nickname “The Bermanator,” which made him smile.

Mark was instrumental in the release of the captive orca Keiko, made famous by the movie Free Willy. Because of Mark and his colleagues, Keiko lived in the ocean for five beautiful years, and that victory set the stage for the eventual release of orcas from SeaWorld.”

Mark protesting the Mirage Hotel
Mark protesting the Mirage Hotel’s captive dolphin display.


“A week before he died, Mark told me that he was so glad that we’re still doing the work we’re doing and said, “I’ll be doing this until I am 100.” He did his best to live up to that promise, but complications from an unexpectedly needed surgery caused his organs to start shutting down and claimed his life. Animals have lost one of the best advocates I have ever known, but the rest of Mark’s friends and I will carry his torch forward until every last marine mammal is finally free.”

Mark's photo of Keiko in Norway.
Mark’s photo of Keiko in Norway.
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