Zoo Aquarium De Madrid

Operation 404, our captivity focused campaign, has been investigating dolphinariums around the world for the past year. Most recently, our undercover team captured groundbreaking footage while investigating Zoo Aquarium de Madrid.

Zoo Aquarium de Madrid currently owns 9 bottlenose dolphins, six were captured in the waters of Cuba and three were born in captivity. Reports show that 11 dolphins have died at Zoo Aquarium de Madrid since the 1980’s with the most recent death occurring in March of 2018.

While investigating, our team discovered that two of these dolphins appear to be ill. Lala and Guarina, both wild caught dolphins, are currently suffering from what appears to be skin lesions. We are very concerned for their well-being and cannot believe they are being forced to perform in these conditions.

Our volunteer teams are working globally to uncover the truth behind captivity. This footage is only the beginning. Operation 404 will continue to document and investigate alleged illegal activity in dolphinariums such as Zoo Aquarium de Madrid. If you support captivity, Sea Shepherd is coming for you.

Vet Report:

 Operation 404 sent footage obtained from Zoo Aquarium de Madrid to a registered veterinarian in Spain for his professional opinion on the shocking injuries/illness our team witnessed on the dolphins at this facility.

Dr. Gonzalez submitted a detailed report with his findings for Lala, Guarina, and the other captive dolphins, which can be seen in entirety below.

**This document was translated from Spanish to English.

Veterinary Report: Zoo Aquarium De Madrid

 Re: This report is based on the visualization of the images and videos of bottlenose dolphins (tursiops truncatus) taken at the Zoo Aquarium in Madrid, which are intended for shows to entertain visitors.

The images clearly show one of the dolphins whose entire body is covered by dermatological ulcerative injuries in crater shape, the range goes from the head all the way through the back, reaching the caudal fin, the injuries are several centimeters in diameter and they are in different stages of evolution, from inflammation, bulging, erythema, nodules, to an ulcer with a certain depth, all are currently in various stages of pathology or dermatological disease.

Another dolphin shows a large ulcer with loss of skin in the mouth at the upper end of both jaws, affecting the mesorrostral cartilage.  The rest of the dolphins show that their eyes are closed more than usual.

The dolphins that live in captivity are susceptible to suffering dermatological and ocular pathologies, due to several reasons such as defecation in pools, it is also stagnant water unlike the open sea what makes it an adequate culture medium for fungus, yeasts such as candida albicans, bacteria and several viruses, not to mention cutaneous pathologies are very predisposed to have a deficient immune system such as those animals subjected to great stress:

-Numerous studies endorse that the deprivation of freedom in cetaceans causes them much anxiety and stress, as well as not being able to choose their families, communicate, or swim in open spaces. To this we must add that these animals are subjected to hard working exercises in exchange for food and even spend periods of food deprivation until they get the indicated exercise as the instructor’s desire.

It is proven that the risk of suffering this type of disease in captive dolphins is 95% higher than in dolphins that live in freedom. To try to avoid these diseases, they add large amounts of chlorine to the tanks, a very irritating substance for marine mammals, which can be the cause of their eyes being so closed (compatible with chlorine irritation, contact reaction or conjunctivitis).

In the videos we can clearly appreciate that these dolphins, besides suffering the pathologies that I have mentioned previously, are also forced to continue working without having the option of relocation in a quiet and clean area/place until they are fully recovered.

In all mammals, both dermis and epidermis, plus the eyes, have many nerve endings so any pathology that affects these areas are very painful and even more so if it occupies a large area as we can clearly see in the case of one of the affected dolphins; as for the one with the jaw injuries, the dolphins have special sensitivity in that area, as they use it constantly to have tactile sensations, so injuries of that size and importance makes it especially painful. Regarding the ocular injuries there is no need to add that any type of pathology in that area is particularly very annoying and painful.

The ability to feel and suffer, both physically and psychical is not inherent in the human being, it is present in all vertebrates, as they have full capacity to suffer both positive stimulations (such as pleasure, joy…) and negatives stimulations (such as pain, fear, sadness, stress…).

I’m writing all this in detail to express the importance and urgency that these animals are currently under great suffering. Both psychically to be deprived of their natural habitat and freedom, to choose their family, to be able to breed, swim in open space (in natural conditions they swim up to 100km per day), be deprived of food and punished, and add the physical suffering from the numerous pathologies that we have seen and I also mentioned earlier. This physical and mental strain ends in death of the animal in many of these cases. The life expectancy of a captive dolphin is 4 times less than a wild dolphin, especially in cases such as these where they are forced to work in sick conditions.


Veterinary Specialist

Oficial veterinary registration #798 “Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Malaga”