A baby dolphin has perished “mid-performance” at a Bulgarian water park after allegedly 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 perished in front of a packed audience, with spectators describing staff quickly ushered them out of the arena.
Eye witness Bisser Lyubenov told BTV Novinite:
“There was a disturbance; the dolphins stopped playing and performing tricks”
Although not yet fully proven, critics have blamed conditions at the dolphinarium for the untimely demise of the baby dolphin.
Dolphins at the park are forced to perform four times a day during the busy summer peak season when tourists flock to the park.
Tsvetan Stanev, a biologist who works at the tourist attraction, said despite its young age, the baby dolphin was forced to perform with the adults.
He told BBC:
You can’t have a mother leaving its child in order to take part in the show. This can happen about six months after birth. A baby dolphin taking part in performances nine days after it was born – this has never happened in this dolphinarium.
Social media users slammed the attraction, branding it a “torturer” for allegedly overworking the animals.
A petition has also been launched calling for the Dolphinarium to be closed.
Yavor Gechev from the animal protection organization Four Paws told BBC 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.