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A magnificent sei whale © Christopher Swann

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Confusion Over Swiss Captive Dolphin Deaths

Previous veterinary reports regarding the cause of death of two dolphins at a Swiss dolphinarium last November have been thrown in to doubt following the leak of a new report which suggests the animals died from the effects of a heroin substitue.

The original evaluation by the Institute for Veterinarian Pathology revealed that the use of antibiotics on two dolphins (“Chelmers” and “Shadow”) at the Connyland dolphinarium, Switzerland last November caused brain damage which then led to their deaths.

An investigation into procedures followed by the vets responsible for the two dolphins then began. However, the leaked report now suggests that the dolphins were probably killed by a heroin substitute placed in the water at a zoo after it hosted a weekend rave.  If this were the case then the drug may well have interfered with the dolphin’s natural instincts regarding when to surfaces to breathe.

The dolphinarium had previously accused animal activists of poisoning the dolphins.

WDCS has always been critical of the often intensive medicinal treatment (such as antibiotics) of dolphins in zoos and entertainment parks.

“Highly dosed medicinal treatment is nothing unusual at dolphinaria”, says Dr. Karsten Brensing, conservation manager at WDCS Germany. “Furthermore, drugs are willingly used to control aggressions or improve the cooperation during the shows. One question remains: Who is responsible for the side effects? The vet who’s doing what he’s learned to or the keeper who is in charge for the insufficient keeping conditions?”

Read the WDCS dolphinaria report