9 Days Old Baby Dolphin ‘Dies Mid Performance’ At Water Park After Being ‘Overworked’

The animal was just nine days old when it passed away at the Varna Dolphinarium, local media reports. The tiny creature is said to have died in front of a packed audience, with spectators describing staff hurriedly ushering them out of the arena. One audience member Bisser Lyubenov told BTV Novinite:

 Baby Dolphin 'Dies Mid Performance' At Water Park After Being 'Overworked'

Baby Dolphin 'Dies Mid Performance' At Water Park After Being 'Overworked'

“There was a disturbance, the dolphins stopped playing and performing tricks.”

It's not clear what exactly the baby dolphin died of, but critics have blamed conditions at the dolphinarium. Dolphins at the park are forced to perform four times a day during the busy summer peak season, when tourists flock to the park and despite its young age, the baby dolphin was forced to perform with the adults, it is claimed. Facebook users slammed the attraction, branding it a "torturer" for allegedly overworking the animals.

Yavor Gechev from the animal protection organisation Four Paws told BBC News five dolphins and a seal have died at the park over the past five years. He said the grisly death count was well above average, adding:

“This means categorically that conditions don't meet even the minimal standards for keeping such animals. The animals are struggling there, they are not surviving.”

But officials there hit back in comments to local media, denying the death happened in fornt of a live audience. Tsvetan Stanev, the facility's biologist, said:

“A baby dolphin taking part in performances nine days after it was born - this has never happened in this dolphinarium!”

Dolphins born in captivity are known to have a higher mortality rate than those born in the wold, with between 50 and 75 per cent dying in the first year of their lives. Intelligent mammals like killer whales and dolphins are also thought to suffer mentally in captivity. One killer whale at Sea World named Tilikum infamously killing three people during his time there.