Last November, Switzerland’s Connyland Park ignored the concerns of animal activists and rented out the facility for a rave. For 48 hours, deafening music rocked the dolphin enclosure. Shadow, an eight-year-old dolphin, was found dead right after the party. Two days later a second, Chelmers, died a slow and agonizing death.
The death of Chelmers triggered a toxicology investigation. Dolphin keeper Nadja Gasser said, ”I do not think Chelmers or Shadow died of natural causes. I think our dolphins have been poisoned.”
Gasser was right. A toxicology report leaked to Swiss media revealed traces of the heroin substitute buprenorphine in the urine of both of the dead dolphins. Digital Journal described the effect of the drug:
Buprenorphin is an opiate that can cause respiratory depression and directly affect the reflexes that keep a person breathing. Dolphins are conscious breathers, meaning they have to actively decide when to breathe and must therefore be awake to breathe.
The Daily Mail quoted Dutch marine biologist and dolphin expert Cornelis van Elk:
Even when sleeping there is part of the brain that automatically controls the breathing instinct in the same way as it does for people when asleep.
Drugging them with opiates could well cause this part of the brain to switch off with fatal consequences.
Two healthy dolphins were poisoned by partygoers at a techno rave. Animal activists had warned Connyland the pounding noise would harm the dolphins. The Thurgau Veterinary Office insisted it would not.
The party went on, but in the end it was not noise that killed Shadow and Chelmers. Instead it was the sick act of some reveler who likely thought it would be fun to watch dolphins on a heroin substitute.
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Connyland photo from pne via Flickr Creative Commons
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