From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1995:

SUGARLOAF KEY, Florida––The first anniversary of the arrival of the dolphins
Molly, Bogie, and Bacall at the Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary came and went with no resolu-
tion in sight of the impasse between Sugarloaf director of rehabilitation Ric O’Barry and oth-
ers involved in the rehab-and-release effort. Brought from the former Ocean Reef Club in
Key Largo on August 10, 1994, all three dolphins remain at Sugarloaf, for the time being,
along with three former U.S. Navy dolphins whom O’Barry is preparing for release in a sepa-
rate deal arranged by the Humane Society of the U.S.

Aligned against O’Barry are Joe
Roberts of the Dolphin Alliance, who negoti-
ated the release of the dolphins from the buy-
ers of the Ocean Reef Club; Russ Rector of
the Dolphin Freedom Foundation, a longtime
advocate of dolphin releases who was exclud-
ed from the Sugarloaf project; dolphin train-
ers Rick Trout and Lynn Stringer, originally
part of the Molly, Bogie, and Bacall rehab
effort, who were dismissed last December
after clashing with O’Barry; Mary Lycan,
the former Ocean Reef Club trainer, whom
Roberts brought to Sugarloaf last spring as
sanctuary behaviorist; former Sugarloaf vet-
erinarian George Baker, who quit on June 5
because of what he called “poor communica-
tion, non-compliance, and blatant disregard
of medical advice”; and a small army of
other onetime staff, volunteers, and repre-
sentatives of some organizations which have
helped to fund the release project.
Since March, increasing numbers
of O’Barry’s critics have been trying to oust
him from the project. After the Ocean Reef
dolphins swam free twice, on June 3 and
June 5, accompanied on the latter date by the
youngest of the Navy dolphins, Roberts told
media he planned to remove the dolphins
from the Sugarloaf sanctuary, a former dol-
phin exhibition site, within a matter of days,
and move them to a sea pen on the Indian
River near their capture site. O’Barry, after
initially saying he wouldn’t turn the dolphins
over to “unqualified” people, agreed to let

them go. “I want Bogie and Bacall to return to the Indian
River Lagoon as soon as possible,” he wrote to media, point-
ing out that the lagoon was the intended release site all along.
Molly hadn’t originally been scheduled for release, being
older and longer in captivity.
That put the ball in Roberts’ court. Two weeks after
Roberts flew to Washington D.C. to ask National Marine
Fisheries Service permits division chief Ann Terbush for the
necessary papers, Terbush on June 27 told ANIMAL PEO-
P L E that Roberts’ application for an emergency relocation
would receive priority handling. Six weeks after that, howev-
er, Roberts apparently still didn’t have all the papers he need-
ed. Further, on July 14, Monroe County circuit judge
William Ptomey rejected arguments that the dolphins were
endangered by conditions at Sugarloaf, ordering that they
must remain there pending settlement of a lawsuit in which
O’Barry contends that Roberts illegally fired him from the
Molly, Bogie, and Bacall rehab effort on March 14, and that
a vote to fire him taken by the Sugarloaf Sanctuary board of
directors on June 11 was also illegal.
On July 31, O’Barry fired Roberts, another action
certain to be contested. Roberts’ failure to get the transfer
papers, O’Barry told reporters, was no surprise. O’Barry has
held all along that NMFS will never grant Roberts any permits
that will lead to the Ocean Reef dolphins’ release, due to the
opposition of the captivity industry, which he contends con-
trols NMFS. O’Barry further holds that the captures of
Bogie and Bacall were illegal in the first place, and that
accordingly no permits are needed to let them go.
Ironically, oceanarium executives have told A N I-
MAL PEOPLE that NMFS is run by animal rights activists.
“We could have done the releases for $25,000 and in
90 days,” O’Barry said, dismissing the claim of Trout,
Rector, and Roberts that he has protracted the rehabilitation
for personal gain. “Joe has taken us on this ride with the per-
mitting process for 11 months now. $180,000 later, we are
still at square one. Now we find out the Indian River Lagoon
is polluted, which Joe knew all along and covered up.”
Pollution in the 156-mile-long Indian River is actu-
ally well known. The state spent $1.5 million in 1994 to start
a cleanup; $5 million during the first half of 1995; and needs
$300 million to complete the job. Ironically, $300 million is
also the estimated annual value of marine life commercially
caught there, including sea trout, tarpon, and

grouper––although, as Assoc-iated Press recently reported,
“Discharges from waste water treatment plants have turned
the water a milky brown. Black ooze coats the once sandy
bottom, killing sea grass beds and decimating fisheries.”
The uproar over Molly, Bogie, and Bacall mean-
while spilled over to involve the former Navy dolphins as
well. Well-placed sources told ANIMAL PEOPLE, on con-
dition of anonymity, that higher-ups at HSUS were looking
for a politically acceptable way to pull out of the release pro-
ject, taken on apparently at the urging of vice president for
wildlife John Grandy and staff marine mammologist Naomi
Rose, who had strongly urged O’Barry’s involvement but
more recently has been among his critics. Purportedly influ-
ential was a secret report on Sugarloaf said to have been deliv-
ered to HSUS in May by Nancy Logue, DVM. Logue was
identified to ANIMAL PEOPLE as the veterinarian of record
for the controversial Into The Blue dolphin release project,
coordinated by the British group Zoo Check in 1990-1991.
What exactly the report said, the ANIMAL PEOPLE
sources did not disclose, nor did Logue herself––who was
alleged to be involved in a dispute with HSUS over payment.
While the action during the first two-thirds of the
summer came down to a stalemate, most parties to the many
interlocking disputes issued position papers, “clarifying” and
“reclarifying” the issues to the murkiness of the Indian River.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals at
first appeared to back away from O’Barry. As informed by
both O’Barry and since departed WSPA staffer Wim de Kok,
ANIMAL PEOPLE reported in July/August that WSPA
chief executive officer Andrew Dickson was in the U.S. to
discuss recruiting O’Barry to help relocate highly endangered
Chinese river dolphins from the Yangtse River to a sanctuary.
WSPA cautious
On July 6, WSPA international projects director
John Walsh wrote to us, “I received a phone call from our
CEO Andrew Dickson, who asked that I advise you that the
reason he was in Boston was for a meeting with the WSPA
board, and not to discuss any dolphin projects. We have con-
sidered requests for assistance with the Chinese river dolphin
project, but it appears that those involved in China are only
accepting financial assistance at this stage. On a personal
note,” Walsh added, “the current controversy unfolding in
Florida is regrettable, as surely those in the government dol-
phin project are paying close attention to the various dolphin
groups and their ability to successfully carry out rehabilita-
tion. Undoubtedly the commercial aquarium and zoo industry
is also watching the squabbling, which may affect the credi-
bility of all those involved.”
It seemed perhaps relevant that HSUS president Paul
Irwin, vice president Murdaugh Madden, board chair K.
William Wiseman, and Humane Society International presi-
dent John Hoyt are all on the WSPA board of directors. HSI

is an umbrella for HSUS and several affiliated organizations.
Meanwhile, O’Barry and International Wildlife
Coalition president Daniel Morast had words over IWC use of
direct mail fundraising appeals spotlighting the work at
Sugarloaf, to which IWC contributions have been relatively
small. Morast barred O’Barry from using the Project
Freedom Hot Line, a fax network for dolphin release advo-
cates managed by the IWC; when O’Barry complained of
censorship, Morast returned, “Honestly, Ric, I’m not cen-
soring you. You are outright banned from the Hot Line, just
like Sea World, Marine World Africa USA, and the Shedd
Aquarium.” Added Morast, “I personally have taken up the
cause to publicly discredit you for your open and willing
involvement in the Sugarloaf dolphin standoff.”
O’Barry has friends
That prompted Dickson of WSPA to step in directly.
“I am appalled at the recent letters and press cuttings I have
seen about the treatment of Ric O’Barry in connection with
the Sugarloaf dolphin project,” he told Morast in a July 17
letter. “WSPA employed Mr. O’Barry over a six month peri-
od for the rehabilitation and release of ‘Flipper,’ a captive
dolphin from Brazil, whom we had obtained custody of.
Through-out that period Mr. O’Barry did a first-class job for
us, and the absolute success of the project was largely due to
him. Flipper was released in March 1993, and has been regu-
larly sighted since then. I am not fully familiar with the prob-

lems at Sugarloaf, but I can say that some of the comments
made about Ric’s ability are absurd, as are any of the criti-
cisms made about the Flipper project in Brazil. If we ever in
the future needed advice about dolphin handling and release,
he is the first person I would talk to.”
Dickson pointedly asked Morast to put his letter on
the Freedom Hot Line. Apparently Morast did not comply.
Other votes of confidence came from Mary Mosley
of the Coalition Against the U.S. Exporting Dolphins, based
in Tarpon Springs, who earlier quit the Dolphin Alliance
advisory board, alleging that Roberts hadn’t shared informa-
tion with her, and Sigrid Luber and Noelle Delaquis, who are
president and anti-captivity campaign director of the Swiss-
based Working Group for the Protection of Marine Mammals.
“Four of our board members,” Luber and Delaquis
testified in an open letter dated July 14, “had the opportunity
to visit the Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary in April 1995. Our
overall impression of the facility, which is very well main-
tained, was very good. In June 1995,” as the controversy
peaked, “Noelle Delaquis went back to Sugarloaf to work as
a volunteer for almost four weeks. She had the opportunity to
talk to the people there, to follow the work and to learn a lot
about this issue. The only reasons we can see for all this
unnecessary hassle are reasons of egos, money, and market-
ing release programs.”
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