Saturday, March 7, 2015

HOW WE GOT HERE - The Death of Jose Luis Barbero

Prepared by Thomas Gainard, Michele Bollo, Steve Christianson
US contact : phone : 760-840-0414
European contact (french/english) :  phone : +353 851 880 138
Dolphin trainer identified in abuse video found dead in Mallorca of apparent suicide.
07 March 2015

José Luis Barbero, a senior dolphin trainer, was identified by a group from around the world who intended to expose the truth of what occurs “behind the scenes” between dolphin shows at Marineland Mallorca.  
It has been brought to our attention that lawyers and an investigator from the Atlanta-based aquarium were sent to Mallorca to investigate and were given information last weekend that a new video existed, which was released 2 days ago  Please see our previous press release for more context on the video. We believe Mr. Barbero was made aware of the second video before he went missing on Tuesday morning. 
Spanish media has reported that Mr. Barbero has been found today, deceased in his car at Mallorca Airport.
We view the death of Mr. Barbero as a terrible tragedy, and extend condolences of the most sincere kind to his family and friends. It should be clear that our effort is not focused on Mr. Barbero, but with Aspro Occio’s Marineland Mallorca, which has allowed the mistreatment of dolphins by not one trainer, but several.  

Mr. Barbero resigned from his position in Marineland with the prospect of becoming the new Senior Vice President at Georgia Aquarium in February.  

The first video provided to and released by the Spanish organisation 
SOSDelfines quickly made the rounds on the internet, which prompted Georgia Aquarium to launch an investigation, while putting Mr. Barbero’s hire on hold.  IMATA (International Marine Animals Trainer’s Association) also launched their own separate investigation, after making a video statement. [since removed from their website]
The question that begs to be asked in the coming weeks is how could this happen and what are the events that led to such tragedy?
The  focus on the unfortunate nature of the story points to the need for transparency and accountability from within the industry.  
  • Did Marineland Mallorca know about the negative training sessions, and the creation of a hostile work environment?  What measures did they take to modify that situation? Were they aware other trainers had adopted the same methods that Mr. Barbero utilized?  
  • If Marineland knew, via complaints or otherwise that there was a problem, how could that not be conveyed to the Georgia Aquarium during their “exhaustive vetting” process?  Ironically, GA is conducting an investigation now, too late to impact the situation.
  • How does IMATA pave the road to reporting misbehavior, protecting those that report situations from retribution?   How does IMATA become a penetrating and effective organization for acting on behalf of the humane treatment of dolphins that exists within their protocols and mission statement?   How do they plan to protect those reporting situations of dolphin mistreatment?


  1. IMATA was formed for the trainers benefit. So much for the dolphin and those who care about them too much. Sensitivity is the pervasive component to most suicides

  2. IMATA was formed for the trainers benefit. So much for the dolphin and those who care about them too much. Sensitivity is the pervasive component to most suicides

  3. Shocking article for me. Never knew so much evil existed in this world. Such people should nit be allowed to participate. Keep us updated on this issue.