Dolphin Trainer Found Dead in Airport Parking

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Dolphin trainer found dead in airport car park after criticism from animal rights activists

One of Spain’s top dolphin trainers at Majorca’s Marineland center was found dead after a video of alleged dolphin abuse was posted online.

The Majorcan dolphin trainer, who it was understood was to become a senior vice president at an Aquarium in Atlanta Georgia USA, was found dead inside his car at Palma airport.

After an intensive four-day search, the body was discovered last Saturday in a black Peugeot 407 in the Palma de Mallorca airport parking.

The missing dolphin trainer Jose Luis Barbero disappeared two days before another troubling video showed up online, his death is being treated as a suicide. Investigators reported that they had found no signs of violence and are waiting for an autopsy to be completed.

The 59-year-old trainer was said to be due to start as Vice President of the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta USA for the first week of March, but his start date was postponed when animal activists leaked the video.

The story broke last month with the original video that allegedly shows Barbero hitting and kicking dolphins.

As detailed by his employers at Marineland, José Luis Barbero was the victim of a ferocious campaign on social networks which went as far as to include death threats.

The center held that these orchestrated attacks did not give Barbero the chance to prove his innocence.

Nevertheless, a video posted online by a Spanish dolphin rights campaign group, SOS Delfines, claimed to show Barbero and another trainer kicking and slapping dolphins.  At one moment, a trainer appears to hold the snout of a dolphin and aiming a kick at its throat.

A pole is also used to nudge another dolphin.  A man’s voice can also be heard shouting “Are you stupid or what?” and “Hey, lazy!”

Claiming he was the victim of a persecution campaign,  Barbero reported the video earlier this year to the Civil Guard as a fraud.  Marineland held that the video had been manipulated to give the false impression of kicks and slaps.

Nonetheless Barbero’s appointment to the Georgia Aquarium USA was postponed while the Aquarium conducted its own investigation.

While SOS Delfines haven’t commented on Barbero’s death, Marineland Mallorca have reportedly denied the abuse allegations and plan to take legal action against the animal rights group.

Activists first released a blurry video allegedly showing Barbero and another dolphin trainer kicking and hitting dolphins at Marineland Mallorca, where he was a director.  Activists later released a clearer video with fewer edits two days after Barbero vanished.  Animal activists say the most recent video shows Barbero using aggressive training techniques at a theme park in Spain.

Before he was found dead at Palma airport, Barbero was last seen leaving his home amid threats and sadly the whole ordeal drove Barbero’s wife to hospital due to stress.

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