They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there – under, under the sea!
Flipper was my all-time favourite TV programme when I was a child and was the first place I ever saw a “tail-walk”.
This is the “walk” a dolphin does on her tail. I say “her” because in the 1960s TV series, they actually had five dolphins who played the role of Flipper but there was only one, named Kathy, who could perform the tail-walk.
Dolphins don’t tail-walk in the wild. Ric O’Barry, a former animal trainer turned animal rights activist, trained her to do that.
Dolphins have incredibly strong muscles in their tails which they use to move the whole body up and down in a smooth motion. This movement in the water causes the dolphin to move forward. A tail-walk was a special move one dolphin learnt.
Ric helped to capture and train dolphins for the beloved TV show. But he turned his life around when one day after the TV show had ended, he went to the Miami Seaquarium to see Kathy and found her very sick. She swam into his arms and died. I tend to think that she voluntarily stopped breathing rather than live another day in captivity – and certainly Ric was transformed by the experience and now dedicates his life to liberating dolphins and whales. • Ari Vanderschoot
Full story in this week’s Gulf News…. Out Now!!!