Delfi, one of the four dolphins that were transferred from Särkänniemi Dolphinarium across the Atlantic to the Attica Zoological Park in Athens Greece last August, has died.
Delfi was 37.
According to the preliminary analysis of the vets at the Attica Park, Delfi died of heart failure. Thorough investigations of the cause of death will be carried out at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. “I received the news of Delfi’s death tonight,” said Miikka Seppälä, CEO of Särkänniemi, in a bulletin on Thursday night. “This was sad news for the Attica Park as well as for our personnel.”
The transfer of the dolphins on August 28 caused a stir in the media and among animal activists. The transfer was attempted to be carried out in secrecy but failed after the activists started flooding social media with pictures of the dolphins in containers.
Attica Park has been heavily criticized by animal rights groups. There has been an outcry to provide proper shade from the harsh Greek sunlight for the dolphins splashing in shallow tanks. Attica has reported five dolphin deaths between 2010 and 2015.
Särkänniemi Dolphinarium in Tampere had decided to stop the theatrical dolphin performances in autumn 2015. The shows had stopped making a profit and the dolphins needed a transfer. According to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (Eaza), an organization in charge of deciding the placement of dolphins in Europe, Attica “fulfilled the criteria” of an aquarium that is placed within the borders of Europe. From tank to tank in Europe was the only option, according to Eaza.
Delfi was captured in the Gulf of Mexico in 1984 when he was about six years old. After the capture, a Dutch biologist and dolphin trainer, Jaap van Der Toor, named him “Burny” because of a flame pattern on Delfi’s forehead.
The flame on Delfi’s head has now gone out. But he lived a long life according to the standards of a dolphin living in capture, where an average dolphin never exceeds the age of 25.
As a protest against the ethics of dolphinariums, big-name Finnish artists canceled their performances at Särkänniemi’s celebration for the end of the season in September.
Will there be a memorial concert for Delfi?