TO many he was the ‘dolphin king’, a gifted trainer with a magical relationship with the much-loved marine mammals.
However inside a matter of months in 2015, Jose Luis Barbero went from the highest of his sport to public enemy primary, after a video emerged of him allegedly abusing dolphins in captivity.
The Spaniard, who labored with the ocean creatures for over three a long time and was extensively revered, appeared to kick and hit the animals within the grainy clips.
A barrage of on-line abuse adopted, with Barbero and his household receiving dying threats, and the scandal culminating in him reportedly taking his own life.
Many believed the whistle-blowers – who expressed zero regret when the information of his dying broke – have been justified of their means to convey consideration to the cruelty confronted by dolphins in captivity.
However questions arose concerning the validity of the video, with some claiming Barbero – who had simply signed a profitable new contract for a high job at a prestigious aquarium within the United States – was focused out of jealousy.
Now a brand new Netflix documentary – The Final Dolphin King – delves into the saga, that includes interviews with these concerned in releasing the video, and the individuals who knew Barbero finest.
From a younger age Barbero established himself as one of the vital prolific dolphin trainers on the earth.
His particular bond with the animals was usually showcased in movies of him caressing and taking part in with them.
In accordance with his good friend and fellow trainer Daniel Juarez, the dolphins underneath Barbero’s care adored him and waited on the door for him to reach.
He had a popularity as a troublesome trainer, which did not at all times enchantment to these these he mentored.
Daniel explains: “The workouts required a whole lot of bodily preparation. If not, you could not sustain with the present.
“He demanded it of himself and others. What occurred? Folks did not prefer it.”
‘Aggressive and violent’
When the damning video – a montage of clips edited collectively – was launched allegedly exhibiting Barbero and different trainers’ merciless therapy of the dolphins, it provoked worldwide outrage.
The footage was stated to have been shot by activists and neighbours of the park who witnessed the alleged abuse and have been involved.
On the time animal advocacy group SOS Delfines, which was instrumental within the video’s launch, stated the cameras have been solely “meant to point out how captive dolphins are handled”.
Within the Netflix documentary, its president Carla Cornella says: “The truth that the dolphins have been skilled in such an aggressive, violent manner shocked and harm me.
“Jose Luis was accountable. These occasions occurred underneath his watch.”
The video went viral and was closely reported on by information shops throughout the globe.
The truth that the dolphins have been skilled in such an aggressive, violent manner shocked and harm me. Jose Luis was accountable
Carla Cornella, SOS Delfines president
In an try and defend himself in opposition to the alarming accusations, Barbero stated in an announcement: “I consider a response is required to this brutal and cowardly marketing campaign in opposition to my occupation.
“I can solely say from my legal professionals’ suggestions that this video is a montage created to non-public a marketing campaign difficult my professionalism over 35 years.”
Regardless of his denials, Marineland Mallorca instantly distanced themselves from him.
The park’s then-director, Rafael Abraham, informed the media he was “shocked and embarrassed” and insisted the video “does under no circumstances mirror what we do in Marineland”.
The media frenzy that ensued sparked an investigation by Barbero’s new employers – Georgia Aquarium – to ascertain the video’s authenticity.
Having already travelled to Georgia to start out his new job, Barbero’s distraught spouse Mari Gracia begged him to come back residence because the scandal took its toll on his psychological state.
On his return to Spain, Mari says he saved a low profile and did not exit a lot.
The couple have been hounded by vile messages, with trolls wishing Barbero a gradual, painful dying. Others claimed they hoped he was shot within the head.
In March 2015, Barbero was reported lacking, sparking an enormous search celebration.
After his disappearance one other video was launched claiming to point out extra abusive behaviour in direction of the dolphins.
I had by no means seen folks get as offended as they received with Jose Luis. They didn’t know him
It sparked a contemporary wave of messages from sickened social media customers, with one writing: “I don’t care if he falls head first off a cliff.”
Heartbroken Mari tells the documentary: “I had by no means seen folks get as offended as they received with Jose Luis. They didn’t know him.”
Just a few days after he vanished Barbero was found lifeless in a parking lot on the Palma de Majorca airport.
Though the police stated his dying was being investigated, they concluded it was suicide.
Within the documentary, Barbero’s son Marcos says: “I do not know lengthy he had been lifeless, it was one or two days. They did not inform us the trigger or how he did it.”
‘Hatred and revenge’
After his dying social media customers continued to depart nasty messages on his Fb web page, with one commenting: “I hope you suffered in your dying.”
Questions over the video’s legitimacy stay.
Former colleague Javier Gutierrez believes it was motivated by “hatred and revenge”, and claims it is comprehensible why somebody would need to harm Barbero’s profession.
“They actually selected the best second to place it out,” he says. “It was when Jose Luis Barbero had signed the contract with Georgia Aquarium, so he was already in the US.
“They gave a whole lot of considered tips on how to do essentially the most harm.”
However SOS Delfines’ Carla insists the movies have been “not manipulated at any time”.
“It was merely edited,” she says. “What we did was edit these photographs into a brief video.”
In accordance with the activists, after the trainer’s dying all animal rights teams that they had been affiliated with reduce ties with them.
A type of accountable for the video, known as ‘V’ within the documentary, says she felt no emotion when she came upon about Barbero’s dying.
“I could not really feel unhealthy about it as a result of I hadn’t finished something improper to really feel unhealthy about,” she says.
“If I have been to really feel unhealthy, it could be as a result of I felt responsible.”
The Final Dolphin King is obtainable to stream on Netflix from November 25.
For confidential assist, go surfing to samaritans.org or name the Samaritans on 116123.