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Is The Dolphin Company a front for Money Laundering?

Mexico’s third-biggest dolphinarium company went out of business two years ago and nobody noticed. It should have been all over social media as it was actually a win for the anti-captivity movement, however, it passed with nothing more than two or three articles online.

Dolphinaris struck a deal for The Dolphin Company to buy their 4 dolphinariums, and also the Ventura dolphinarium which was previously part of the Dolphinaris group.

Why would Dolphinaris sell a thriving business you might wonder? Because it wasn’t thriving at all.

As many of our followers know, Dolphin Freedom (previously Delfines En Libertad) have been on the ground in Mexico monitoring and campaigning against the industry since 2011. When we first started monitoring the marine parks they were packed with tourists. Dolphins were working insatiably with huge groups of tourists, relentlessly carrying out the foot push and belly ride etc. Parks were busy and noisy with hordes of kids running around the place and busloads of tourists coming in and out throughout the day.

Since then, we have consistently entered the dolphinariums every year or so to keep abreast of current practices. In the last 5 years, we have noticed a steady decline in tourists. No doubt the industry has been undergoing the BlackFish effect, combined also with several large tour operators, such as Thomas Cook and Expedia ending contracts with them completely. Losing contracts with tour operators must have been a big blow to the Mexican industry. Dolphin parks have become calmer and quieter and sometimes we’ve seen dolphins not working all day. (This does not mean the dolphins have been having a good time. It means they are lying listlessly on the top of the water - broken and bored out of their minds or fighting due to stress).

This year we visited the Riviera Maya enclosure which was one of the Dolphinaris parks recently acquired by The Dolphin Company. It was actually closed for several months prior to the sale. We visited on the weekend in the high season which is normally the busiest time of the week. We were shocked by what we encountered. We arrived in the morning but the whole park was empty of tourists. Not any tourists at all. All the dolphins were in the tanks and the park was fully staffed and open, but nobody had bought a ticket. We had the whole park to ourselves.

We entered the tank to swim with the dolphins and the interaction was not very invasive. We declined to do the foot push or the belly ride and we just petted the poor dolphins instead.

As we were leaving a handful of tourists arrived for the midday session. There were probably only around 8 people and 2 of them were just observing. 13 years ago when we first visited this park it was pulling in around 200 - 300 people a day. Now even at peak season, it appears to be attracting about 20-30 people at best.

This only goes to show that hardly anyone wants to swim in Dolphinaris tanks anymore. So this begs the question, why would the Dolphin Company buy a dolphinarium company that is on its knees? What incentive is there to buy a chain of dolphinaria which by all accounts should have gone bust?

When you’re on the ground campaigning in Quintana Roo (Quintana Roo is the heartland of Mexico’s dolphinarium industry), you get to hear a lot of “rumors” about the industry. Many things get whispered such as illegal captures, the dumping of dead dolphin bodies (check under the Lazy River Ride in Ventura Park), dolphins killing trainers, dolphins killing kids and all sorts of scandalous things like that.

One of the consistent rumors that keeps flying around year after year is that The Dolphin Company is actually just a front for money laundering. Obviously, we can not say if this is true or not. When we first heard this rumor the parks were booming and making loads of money so we thought it must be nonsense. However, now when one goes to the dolphinarium and is literally the only person in there, one can’t help but wonder how on earth can they afford to stay open?

Let's examine the evidence which supports the rumor that Eduardo Albor (owner of the Dolphin Company) is washing rich people’s money.

Firstly, he has been mentioned in the Paradise Papers, however, the information has not been released to the public yet. The Paradise Papers are a set of over 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investments that were leaked to German reporters. Some of the details were made public on 5 November 2017 and stories are still being released. The details on Albor have not yet come to light but for sure he is listed there.

Secondly, he has dolphinaria in some of the most notorious tax havens in the region such as the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. He also has various parks in Mexico. Mexico obviously has a huge narco presence and a history of endemic corruption.

This means there may be lots of people and entities that need money laundered. He has private planes, boats and vans. These land, sea and air vehicles are regularly flying over the Caribbean and around Mexico and potentially Miami. In Mexico, they claim to be “swapping dolphins around” between parks. They say they do this because they don’t want the dolphins to get bored. We’re surprised to hear they care so much about the dolphins’ mental health considering they have them confined in tiny tanks 24/7. It is true that they do actually transport the dolphins around because we’ve seen them dumping them in tanks in the middle of the night but we also wonder, what else could they be transporting in those private planes and boats?

Cash maybe?

Thirdly, he is running dolphinaria which have no customers.

 So there you go. That is what people are saying in Quintana Roo in Mexico about The Dolphin Company.

Once again we can not say if this is true or not. We just find it interesting. If it is true, however, we call on all the hotels which do business with Eduardo Albor, such as Barcelo, to close the dolphinaria on their sites and cut ties with this company completely. When and if this all comes to light, it’s not going to look good on any corporation, such as Barcelo, to be involved in a tax scandal of this magnitude.


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