There are moments that change your life. You are one person before them, and a whole new one after.
Richard O’Barry’ experienced one such moment the day Flipper the dolphin died in his arms.
O’Barry’ was a dolphin trainer. He had captured and trained the 5 dolphins that were used during the lifespan of the iconic TV show “Flipper the dolphin”.
Kathy was one of them. She was the most famous and commonly used.
Towards the end of her career, Kathy was isolated in a small tank at the Miami Seaquarium. Many people believed she was depressed.
One day in 1970, she swam towards her trainer and sank to the bottom of the tank to never resurface.
Kathy died on this day, in the arms of O’Barry, the man who had taken away her freedom and trained her so that she, a gorgeous, bright, emotional living being could be exploited for profit.
O’Barry’ probably did not mean bad and he was not acting alone. He was part of a system. Perhaps, he did not realize how Kathy and the other dolphins were feeling, how miserable they were. He might have thought that he was taking good care of them.
On this day, though. when Kathy passed in his arms, his life changed. Dolphins are capable to hold their breath if they want to and it makes no doubt for O’Barry who “had lived with her for seven years” that the iconic dolphins had taken away her own life to end her misery.
There are people who believe that animals are not able to commit suicide. Others think that they can.
Wherever you stand, there is something that no one can deny: animals, especially, animals as smart as dolphins can understand and feel way more things than we want to admit.
On the day Kathy died, O’Barry’ became a new person.
The proof is that he was arrested for trying to free another dolphin, just 2 days following the loss of Kathy. After being freed from jail, he started a life of activism, fighting to end the captivity of whales and dolphins, through his non for profit organization, the Dolphin Project
The story of Kathy changed O’Barry. For the better.
After working for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, he now has been fighting for the past 49 years, against it.
The story of Kathy, the Kathys in the world, and O’Barry is a striking tale.
However striking, t is far from being an only case.
In the world we live in today, even if we do not actively steal the life of wild animals to profit from it, chances are that some of our choices are having an impact that we could not condone if we were confronted with it.
And this needs to change.
We need more new O’Barry, so more Kathy can be protected, and live the life they are meant to live. We need more information, more pivotal moments, without the suffering and pain, so we are capable to flip our lives and habits for all the Kathys of the world. Whether they are wild animals, farm animals, humans, whether they are our forests, our oceans, or any part of this incredible world that we are blessed to have inherited.
There might be some sacrifices to make but if we think about it, if we think about Kathy and O’Barry, what would have changed in our lives if we didn’t have Flipper the dolphin?
What about Kathy’s though? And what about what we would have wanted for Kathy if presented with a choice?
I am pretty sure that if we would have been asked which life we would have chosen for Flipper, we would have wanted her to be swimming free, with her pod, in a blue pristine ocean far away from the human world.