Richard O'Barry

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Portrait, July 2009

Richard "Ric" O'Barry (* 1939 in Florida ) is an American dolphin conservationist , animal liberation activist and former dolphin tamer .

He began his career in the 1960s at the Miami Seaquarium, where he began training the animals used in the television series Flipper . In the 1970s he experienced a radical change in life: After the pinball episodes were turned off during his contract period, the dolphins Susie and Kathy, who survived a total of five animals, became superfluous and were no longer used in Miami (see also Flipper (dolphin) ). Susie was sold to a European circus where, according to the magazine Der Spiegel, she died of pneumonia. This death was traumatizing for O'Barry: "Next, I could only remember that a few days later I was in prison in the Bahamas for trying to free dolphins there." - he describes his emotional situation in retrospect. He locked himself in mourning for days, sold his Porsche, became a vegetarian and traveled to India. Shortly after his return, Kathy also died in his arms in Miami. While the mirror writes of an illness as the cause; O'Barry describes the event as a suicide chosen by Kathy.

O'Barry lived from then on in Coconut Grove , Florida and founded the Dolphin Project at the Earth Island Institute in the 1970s , which educates the public about dolphins in captivity and, if possible, frees individual dolphins. He is the author of two books and is a consultant for several animal welfare organizations, including the WSPA and the WDSF . He is also known for the multiple award-winning film The Bay (2009), which deals with the dolphin drive hunt in Taiji (Wakayama) . In 2011 O'Barry was honored with the German “Bambi” media prize in the “Our Earth” category. As early as 1991 O'Barry was awarded the United Nations Conservation Prize (UNEP) for his commitment to the release of dolphins. He has staged events disruptions several times; at IWC conferences and the Oscars for his film.

In addition to many honors, O'Barry says he was arrested, monitored and convicted several times for his work. He is banned from the IWC for life. The United States Navy charged him with cruelty to animals after they found dolphins released to O'Barry for military use in allegedly poor condition. O'Barry paid a $ 59,500 fine for illegally stealing the dolphins, which he was convicted under civil law in 1999, according to his own admission, so as not to waste more money on legal battles. He denies that the animals were in poor condition after they were freed.


  • In thirty years of activism, O'Barry claims to have freed 14 dolphins.
  • Richard O'Barry: Behind the Dolphin Smile . Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 1988, ISBN 0-912697-79-2 .
  • Richard O'Barry, Keith Coulborne: To Free a Dolphin . Renaissance Books, October 2000, ISBN 1-58063-102-9 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b Larry Rohter: In a Killing Cove, Siding With Dolphins . In: The New York Times , July 19, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  2. a b c Iris Hellmuth: Tragedy in the Bottlenose Dolphin Basin - one day . In: Der Spiegel , 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  3. a b Sebastian Moll: Animal rights activist Ric O'Barry: Flippers curse . In: , September 8, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ Richard O'Barry: Behind the Dolphin Smile . Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 1988, ISBN 0-912697-79-2 .
  5. a b c David Gonzalez: Santa Lucía Journal; Flipper's Trainer in Crusade Against Dolphin Exploitation . In: The New York Times . July 3, 2001.
  6. A deer for the dolphin protector
  7. ^ Rheinische Post: Oscar winner protests against dolphinariums
  8. 'The Cove' Oscar Speech Gets Cut Off For Activist Message . In: Huffington Post , August 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  9. a b O'Barry himself in the film The Bay
  10. Stephanie Dorezas: ACTIVISTS FINED $ 59,500 IN SUGARLOAF DOLPHIN RELEASE , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Office of Law Enforcement. June 10, 1999. Retrieved September 12, 2011.