at the Dolphinarium
December 19, 1968 is the date the dolphinarium opened.
The American Jerry Mitchell was the purveyor appointed by the
He is called « a great friend of the dolphins » although
he was already responsible, without a doubt, for the deaths of
Working at his side was James Tibor, Dr. Wolfgang Gewalt,
Director of the Duisburger Tierpark and Dr. Thomas Allen.
Their goal: to « raise a captive dolphin » in Europe, as
is done in the United States.
During the journey, the dorsal fins exposed to the
open air of certain dolphins were nearly frozen.
When they were removed from their case then taken out of their
canvas hammock, Dr. Thomas Allen injected them with a dose of
antibiotics as well as a stimulant.
At this point they were stiff, full of cramps and covered in
sores, supported in 70cm of water.
Most often, the dolphins died at the time of their
capture, during the journey or upon arrival.
However, after having been integrated in the dolphinarium for a
certain time, their deaths could have various other causes, which
are carefully noted in the veterinary reports from the Antwerp
*Trauma (crushing of a baby against the wall of the reniform pool
by its own mother).
*Ptomaine in the body
*Fatal attack by an aggressive male or female
*Necrosis of the liver
*Chronic renal infection
In other respects, the constant overpopulation, the
confinement of individuals with very dissimilar temperaments,
giving the dolphinarium the same results as in a prison.
The detainees become crazy in this miniscule, but also very noisy
Power tools, trucks, jackhammers, freight trains all cause
incessant vibration of the pool’s water.
The Zoo is located adjacent to the Central Station, right in the
heart of metropolis.
If the dolphinarium in Antwerp did not count on an
exceptional rate of deaths (some amusement parks have had more
victims), the following list provides an understanding in a few
words the tragic and brief story of those who in principle, were
there for our amusement:
The lethal pool
The Wall of Death
at the Dolphinarium
Chris (M) born
in the wild in 1965, is the first victim. Brought on December 20,
1968 to the Antwerp Zoo, he died there on January 6, 1969 – less
than fifteen days after the official inauguration.(The Zoo opened
before, in 1968)
arrived at the zoo in 1968, died there on February 26, 1972.
born in the wild in 1970, brought to Belgium on February 10,
1972, died February 26, 1972, by drowning. She caught her head in
a drainage pipe. At two and a half years of age, all children do
in 1968, was brought to the Zoo December 20, 1968, and died there
April 12, 1972.
born February 12, 1972, died July 23, 1973.
born in the wild in 1962, brought to the Zoo on December 20,
1968, died at the Zoo April 13, 1973 of bronchopneumonia.
April 30, 1973, another stillborn. No name.
born in the wild in 1964, brought to the Zoo on December 20,
1968, died December 16, 1973 from bronchopneumonia.
born in the wild in 1964, captured in 1968, died January 24,
was born at the Zoo April 25, 1974, died two days later.
Peritonitis and pleurisy.
Ban (M) and Brabo (M)
also born on that day died April 28, 1974. Bronchopneumonia.
born in April 1974. He died May 1. The same year.
born in the wild in 1967, brought tot he Zoo in 1972, and died
September 14, 1975.
was born then died in February 1976.
was born in 1960. Brought to Antwerp December 20, 1968, at the
age of eight, she died after eleven years of confinement, May 7,
born in 1976. He died January 6, 1980.
born in the wild in 1964 brought in 1972, died December 30, 1980.
born then died February 9, 1982. Acute muscular dystrophy.
born May 31, 1986. He died June 3, 1986.
was born in the wild in 1963, was captured March 3, 1981. She
died six years later July 31, 1987.
Orfee (F) and Odin (M)
were born and then died at approximately the same time, the 9th
and 10th of August 1987. Cause of deaths: purulent
bronchopneumonia for Odin, general degeneration of the parenchyma
and pulmonary congestion for Orfee.
was born then died on September 17, 1988 from « trauma ».
born October 8, 1989 and died the 20th of the same month of the
same year. Cause of death: pneumonia and acute enteritis.
was born in the wild in 1968, captured in 1972, died September
19, 1989. Pat held out for seventeen years. That’s the current
score of Iris and Ivo.
born May 20, 1986, died December 4, 1990.
born in the wild in 1968, brought to Antwerp October 19, 1972,
died on an imprecise date between 1995 and 1998.
born in the wild in 1973, was brought to the Antwerp Zoo March 3,
1981. He died also between 1995 and 1998.
Today there remains only Iris (F), born in
1969 and Ivo (M),
her son born in 1978.
Extract from Preliminary
Report on The Demographic Status of the Bottlenosed Dolphin in
the E.E.C (July 1991) by HELGA DE BOIS,
Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp’s biologist and PAUL VAN DEN
SANDE, E.E.C scientist.