December 17 1998 : Ric O’Barry Press Conference in Brussels

December 17 1998 : Ric O’Barry Press Conference in Brussels




For some weeks, Belgian organizations involved in the two last Antwerp’s surviving captive dolphins try to negotiate with Frederic Daman, Director of the Antwerp zoo. Prince Laurent recently declared to the daily newspaper
« le Matin » :

« All animals should be free, particularly dolphins. I really did my best but now, as a King’s Family member, I’m not allowed to go further ! ».

Along side with Gerard Lippert (Delphus association) Prince Laurent met Fred Daman two times and tried to convince him to set our dolphins free.

Unhappily, Fred Daman refused to listen to them so far. He told that decision was already taken and that Iris and Ivo should go to Duisburg zoo.

We know today that 19 dolphins were died in Duisburg tank and that five of them are still living there, in an overcrowded pool.

At the time of a new press conference held in Brussels on December 17 1998, in the presence of the 4 main Belgian dolphin protection groups involved in the « Save Iris and Ivo Campaign 1999 », Ric O’Barry declared :

« Sending these dolphins to Duisburg is sending them to a certain death before long.

Antwerp zoo has already killed 29 dolphins : is it not enough ?

Iris and Ivo’s rehabilitation is now concretely feasible.

We have a place near Caribbean sea, where these dolphins can be carried. I never said we would free them immediately.

We need to observe them and see if they are able to go back to the wild or not.

But what they need the most, right now, is sun and seawater, even behind a net for a while.

What they need right now is winds and tide’s moves, seaweed’s and living fishes !

And we COULD give that to them immediately if only M.Daman would accept to entrust us with these two dolphins.

I hope he understands that MY solution is better than HIS, at least in dolphin’s
opinion ! »

Ric O’Barry is now very popular in Belgium. One month ago, he entered the zoo for the first time and met our dolphins that he found to be very pale and unhealthy because of lack of sun. Daman refused to receive him and told to the Flemish press that Ric was a criminal, prosecuted by the Justice of his land.

When speaking at the 12/17/98 press Conference, Ric O’Barry added :

« I want to say here that’s I’m not a criminal. Who is the criminal ? Me or M.Daman, who killed 29 dolphins ? I want M.Daman to openly apologize for this slander before next 24 hours or that he proved what he said. Otherwise, I WILL institute legal proceedings against him ! »

« Of course, concluded Ric,  » I’d prefer to forget all that and open a new dialogue with M. Daman for the sake of the dolphins  »

Dr Yvan Beck, from the RNS association which started this new 99 campaign, reminds the audience that more than 50 international and Belgian groups were now involved in Antwerp’s dolphins rescuing.

Philippe Soreil, the Belgian « TV star » conclued by these words :

« This protest campaign is a awful lack of time. If M.Daman had a heart, he would have accept immediately our proposals. But I’m sure M.Daman owns a heart and will change his mind rapidly »




At this very moment, a new information falls on the press faxes an was announced to the audience.

Last year, a new Dolphinarium Port saint Pere was recently built in France but was not allowed to import any dolphins, thanks to strong protest campaign sent by Belgian and French organizations.

After this Environment Minister decision, the Port saint Pere installations were left empty and vacant. Pools are huge and modern, with natural and warmed sea water, open air, sun and living fishes.

Now, the owners change and the project too.

Instead of a dolphinarium, Port saint Per will become the First European Care and Rehabilitation Center for Marine Mammals.

Environment Minister’s answer is awaited for this week but it ‘s almost sure it will be yes, because this project is good.

As a « departure platform » towards Caribbean sea, as a « lock chamber » between tank and real sea, this first European rehabilitation center will receive in the same time – and for a short time, in any cases – stranded dolphins from the near coast and rescued captive ones.

No tricks. No swim-with-the-dolphins programs.

Just dolphins among other dolphins, with discreet underwater cameras in order to observe their behavior from the distance.

A fax was sent this day from Port saint Pere to Antwerp zoo, telling M.Daman that iris and Ivo were welcome and awaited in their new retreat and rehabilitation center.

For our dolphins, it could be a good thing : instead of a first long journey, they will be brought to France very quickly.

Then they will recover their health under sun and seawater influence and they will already learn to catch living fishes.
Afterwards, they will be able to withstand a much longer and exhausting trip to the tropical seas, alongside with Ric O’Barry team and friends.

Of course, we must be careful with this project and survey it closely.

Some friends of us will become member of the Center administration council and so , if ever the dolphins would stay « too long », we could intervene immediately.

But for the last 8 Bruges dolphinarium dolphins, for the 5 (or more) Antibes Marineland dolphins, for the Parc Asterix 6 dolphins (or less), the new European Rehabilitation center could be the gate to freedom….

Now, everybody is waiting Daman’s reaction.

After German letters action, be sure Duisburg will accept Iris and Ivo no more.

As soon as Monday December 20, all Belgian newspapers will publish the complete 29 dead dolphins list on a special page.

A representative of Brussels Minister asked for a meeting with Ric O’Barry…
Everything may occur now..

The best or the worst.



To know more :

Planète Vie – RNS



December 17 1998 : Ric O’Barry Press Conference in Brussels

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