A Netflix documentary, The Last Dolphin King, shed light on the story of Jose Luis Barbero, a well-respected Spanish aquarium trainer who took his own life in 2015 after being accused of dolphin abuse. Barbero had secured a prestigious position at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, but his career came crashing down after a video surfaced showing him allegedly hitting and kicking a dolphin at an aquarium in Mallorca, where he had worked for nearly four decades.
Following the emergence of the video, Barbero became the target of a campaign by animal rights activists, which resulted in him receiving death threats. He disappeared shortly afterward and was later discovered dead in his car parked outside the Mallorca airport. Read on to know the full scoop of the story.
Jose Luis Found Dead After Shocking Dolphin Abuse Scandal
In March 2015, Barbero, a dolphin trainer with close to 40 years of experience in aquariums and water parks, was about to start his new job as vice president of the Georgia Aquarium in the US. However, a video released by animal activist group SOSdelfines just before his departure from Marineland Mallorca allegedly showed him hitting and kicking the dolphins he was training.
The 99-second long video, which was captured using a hidden camera and was of low quality, went viral on social media, causing widespread outrage. As a result, Barbero was reportedly subjected to death threats.
After facing a barrage of criticism, he took to Facebook to defend himself. He claimed that the video was a montage created to tarnish his reputation, based on his lawyers’ recommendations. His wife, Mari Gracia, revealed in the documentary that the constant threats and scrutiny had a negative impact on him.
However, things took a dark turn when Barbero disappeared in March 2015 after leaving his home in Mallorca. Despite a large search operation by Balearic Islands emergency services, he remained missing for several days. Several days after he had gone missing, Barbero’s lifeless body was discovered in his car parked at the Mallorca airport.
What Happened To Trainer Jose Luis Barbero?
According to CNN, Jose Luis Barbero’s lifeless body was found in his car at the Palma de Mallorca airport parking lot in March 2015, and authorities stated that he had committed suicide, although the exact circumstances of his death remain unknown.
Following the release of the video by SOSdelfines that alleged Barbero had mistreated the dolphins, the Georgia Aquarium initiated an investigation to determine the truth of the claims. However, the inquiry was halted after Barbero’s death, and Mike Leven, a representative of the aquarium, expressed his sadness at the situation.
In a statement reported by WSB-TV, Leven emphasized that Barbero and his family had received death threats, and he had been denied the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, Leven suggested that Barbero may have been “tortured” by “activists,” leading to his unfortunate and unjust demise. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Marineland Mallorca expressed its support for Barbero.