Three bottlenose dolphins rescued from an Indonesian tourist attraction are released into the ocean

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Three bottlenose dolphins who were rescued from a resort hotel in Indonesia in 2019 are now swimming freely – after being rehabilitated by a specialist animal sanctuary.

The dolphin trio – Johnny, Rocky and Rambo – were rescued by the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center.

This is a dolphin care facility that the Indonesian government has set up in Banyuwedang Bay, west of Bali, according to The Associated Press.

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According to Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit that has partnered with the initiative, Indonesia’s Bali Forest Department and Ministry of Forests are the two nature conservation agencies that launched the rehabilitation center.

Umah lumba is the Balinese word for dolphin, according to the Dolphin Project.

In this photo released by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project on Saturday, September 3, 2022, rescued bottlenose dolphin Rocky – fitted with a GPS beacon – swam through the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retreat Center in Banyuwedang Bay , west of Bali, Indonesia. .
(DolphinProject.com via AP)

The Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center houses dolphins that have been removed from shows.

Johnny, Rocky and Rambo were released in Banyuwedang Bay on Saturday September 3, after three years of care by the rehabilitation center – which receives labor from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network as well as financial and supervision of the Dolphin Project.

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“It was an incredibly moving experience to watch them go,” Lincoln O’Barry, animal rights activist and campaigns coordinator at The Dolphin Project, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Animal rights activists and filmmakers Lincoln O'Barry (left) and Ric O'Barry (right) work to protect dolphins around the world through Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project, a non-profit organization focused on dolphin welfare.

Animal rights activists and filmmakers Lincoln O’Barry (left) and Ric O’Barry (right) work to protect dolphins around the world through Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, a non-profit organization focused on dolphin welfare.
(Barry King/WireImage)

O’Barry, 50, is the son of Ric O’Barry, 82, who started the Dolphin Project in 1970 after seeing the devastation show business had taken on dolphins.

In the 1960s, Ric O’Barry trained dolphins on the set of “Flipper,” a television show that ran for three seasons.

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Ric O’Barry then changed his career from dolphin trainer to “dolphin advocate” after show dolphin named Kathy, “who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms”, according to the Dolphin Project.

Father-son couple O’Barry were both present when Johnny, Rocky and Rambo was released.

The three dolphins were captured in Indonesia and spent years performing in traveling circuses until they ended up in a small chlorinated swimming pool at a hotel in North Bali, according to the Dolphin Project.

“Day after day, [they were] forced to perform for paying tourists at loud theatrical performances,” the Dolphin Project wrote in a press release for the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center in 2020.

During their captivity, all three dolphins were injured, the Dolphin Project reported.

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Johnny, the eldest of the group, suffered skin lesions, a pectoral fin injury, a corneal injury, malnutrition and worn teeth that sank below his gum line.

This summer, Johnny received dental crowns that allow him to catch his own fish.

Rocky and Rambo have reportedly gained weight and strength during rehabilitation, according to the Dolphin Project.

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When the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Liberation and Retreat Center opened its underwater doors to free the three dolphins, Johnny, Rocky and Rambo did not immediately leave, the Associated Press reported.

It would have taken the dolphins about an hour to venture into Banyuwedang Bay.

Johnny was the first to go, according to The Associated Press.

On Saturday, September 3, 2022, Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar (center) opened the gates to release three rescued dolphins - Rocky, Rambo and Johnny - from a dolphin sanctuary.  The dolphins were released in Banyuwedang Bay, located west of Bali, Indonesia.

On Saturday, September 3, 2022, Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar (center) opened the gates to release three rescued dolphins – Rocky, Rambo and Johnny – from a dolphin sanctuary. The dolphins were released in Banyuwedang Bay, located west of Bali, Indonesia.
(DolphinProject.com via AP)

The three dolphins reportedly circled the sanctuary that freed them before leaving the area.

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“They turned around and came back to us again, almost to say thank you and goodbye,” Lincoln O’Barry said in a statement. “And then they headed straight for the open ocean and disappeared.”

The Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center will monitor Johnny, Rocky and Rambo through GPS tracking, the news agency reported.

“Where do they go next, we don’t know,” O’Barry told the AP. “But we wish them a good long life.”

In this photo released by Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project on Saturday, September 3, 2022, rescued bottlenose dolphin Johnny swam to the surface of Banyuwedang Bay after being released from the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retreat Center in the West Bali, Indonesia.  .

In this photo released by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project on Saturday, September 3, 2022, rescued bottlenose dolphin Johnny swam to the surface of Banyuwedang Bay after being released from the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retreat Center in the West Bali, Indonesia. .
(DolphinProject.com via AP)

The World Wildlife Fund estimates the world population of bottlenose dolphins to be around 600,000.

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“Dolphins live off fish, and they work cooperatively to herd prey to the surface for easier feeding,” WWF wrote in a common bottlenose dolphin profile.

“Because they live so close to shore, they are threatened by bycatch, coastal development and environmental degradation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.