The two dolphins who died at a zoo in Switzerland last November had been drugged by partygoers. That’s the conclusion of an autopsy report that’s been leaked to the media.
Shadow and Chelmers died days after the Connyland Zoo had rented out land near their training pool for a rave party attended by thousands of clubbers.
At first it was thought that the blaring techno music had damaged the dolphins’ sensitive sonar and hearing. A second possibility was that zoo veterinarians had given Shadow and Chelmers wrong antibiotics.
But the leaked toxicology report reveals that the heroin substitute Buprenorphin was found in the animals’ systems.
Marine biologist Cornelis van Elk is quoted as saying:
“Opiates are extremely dangerous for underwater mammals and would never be used in any legitimate treatment.
“The reason is that dolphins are conscious breathers which means they actively decide when to come to the surface to breathe, for which they need to be awake. Even when sleeping, there is part of the brain that automatically controls the breathing instinct in the same way as it does for people when asleep.
“Drugging them with opiates could well cause this part of the brain to switch off with fatal consequences.”
Connyland zookeeper Nadja Gasser told local media that the dolphins died a slow, painful death:
“[Chelmers] was drifting under the water and was clearly in trouble and so we jumped into the water. We tried to hold him. He was shaking all over and was foaming at the mouth.
“The death went on for over an hour. It was horrendous. I have not been able to sleep since.”
The owner of the zoo, Roberto Gasser, is blaming animal protection groups, specifically the Whale and Dolphin Protection Forum, for the death of the dolphins.
“This is an untrue story let out by animal activists which might be the cause of the death of our animals,” he said. “They died two weeks after the party, so the party had nothing to do with it at all.”
Gasser claims, incredibly, that the dolphins’ deaths were an “attack” and “a planned strike against us.”
In March, the Swiss Parliament voted to end all imports of live dolphins into the country. And Connyland is the only zoo with dolphins in Switzerland. But the new law doesn’t prohibit breeding more dolphins, and in this video, taken during a day of protests on behalf of the dolphins, Ric O’Barry says the zoo has been trying to get more dolphins in under the wire from Spain before the law takes effect.
O’Barry says there is one simple way to bring the abuse of dolphins at Connyland to an end.”Don’t buy a ticket.”