three bottlenose dolphin – Dear names Johnny, Rocky and Rambo – were released into the open sea off Indonesia on Saturday, According to the Associated Press, The aquatic mammal spent years in captivity to entertain tourists before its famous release.
Dolphins were rescued in 2019 from a small pool at a resort hotel that had bought the animals after spending years in a traveling circus. Uma Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center Bali Then reared them back to health before setting them free.
“It was an incredibly emotional experience to see him go,” said Lincoln O’Barry, who founded Uma Lumba – meaning “dolphin” in Indonesian – with the support of the national government.
The Dolphin Project, a non-profit that helped save the trio, was started by O’Barry’s father, a former dolphin trainer. Rick O’Barryin 1970.
After passing through the underwater gates to freedom, the three dolphins spent about an hour swimming nearby. But they eventually set course for unknown destinations, as Umah Lumumba Center staffers clapped.
“They turned back and came to us once again, almost to say thank you and goodbye,” said Lincoln O’Barry, filming his release with the drone. “Where they go next, we don’t know. But we wish him a long life.”
Wahoo Lestari, the center’s rehabilitation coordinator, said she was somewhat saddened to leave them but “they must be in the wild because they are born in the wild.”
When captive, dolphins are often kept in chlorinated water and are unintentionally injured from interactions with tourists.
The Indonesian government has spent the past 10 years working on a public education campaign, filled with billboards and school programs urging citizens not to attend dolphin shows.
More sanctuaries like the Uma Lumumba Center are planned for Europe and the US, O’Barry said, adding that virtual reality is another way to enjoy nature without endorsing nonhuman dolphin shows.