A huge thank you to June Bird Killington of SeaWorld SHUT DOWN for inviting me to write a blog for her many Australian supporters.
I am known by many in the captive cetacean business as David Capello (not my real name, but an old stage name), and I am the ex-trainer featured in the controversial, award-winning book series, The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy - an exposé that is suffering a full UK media block.
Unlike many other well-known trainers, my apprenticeship started in the UK training pens – a little-known facility, now infamous for producing hard-nosed trainers.
In the late 60s/early 70s, handlers like myself were on the cutting-edge of training techniques, responsible for breaking-in raw dolphins for a new and powerful entertainment scene – commercial dolphinaria.
All trainers employed in these pens were sworn to secrecy, keeping tight-lipped about the multitude of horrors they were forced to witness. None of these trainers have ever had the courage to speak publicly about what they were involved in … until now.
My whistle-blowing decision has cost me dearly - abandoned by my one-time friends and colleagues, vilified by many anti-captivity activists and shunned by ALL the big-name animal charities.
Despite this, I remain passionate about telling my story and evermore determined to expose the vile captive cetacean industry for what it truly is. Don’t fall for the glamour and glitz of the corporate powerhouses that run global dolphinaria … they have been lying for at least 45 years to my knowledge.
Although my story is now viewed as historic, the horrors of modern-day dolphinaria are in fact even worse than they were in my day, as affirmed by the testimony of many latter-day ex-trainers.
And so, to finish, a message to activists:
If you want to destroy this industry, you need to know the facts. I see many well-meaning social media posts that are wrongly interpreted, destroying activist credibility – a flaw that pro-captivity campaigners will exploit. Only when able to support debate with valid fact will you stand any chance of ending this ongoing abuse.
Thanks again, June Bird Killington of SeaWorld SHUT DOWN, for this interview. Keep up your magnificent work.
THE PERFECT PAIR DOLPHIN TRILOGY - "a shocking exposé of callous brutality against highly intelligent living creatures"
Shards from the Mirror is the third and final part of the Perfect Pair trilogy, detailing the often horrific story behind professional dolphin training. It has been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, and the series comes to a dramatic end as the threat from early in the first book (which echoes throughout all three volumes) really makes itself felt: “Dolphinariums don’t just break dolphins - they break trainers.”
For those who haven’t read the first two parts of the trilogy by the Holroyd siblings, The Perfect Pair is the story of the semi-fictional dolphin trainer David Capello. While the book is classified as a work of fiction and must be sought in the fiction section of book stores, this is primarily a legal defence against an overwhelmingly powerful dolphinarium industry; an industry for which this third book especially is a shocking exposé of callous brutality against highly intelligent living creatures.
Literally anyone who has ever worked in any company ever will be drawn into the book on a wave of sheer sympathy. The treatment of David and his aquatic charges - the titular Perfect Pair - by the Company is as barbaric as it is familiar. The constant demand for more results with fewer resources, the callous disregard for human (and dolphin) lives and wellbeing, the claiming of credit by those who have done nothing to earn it and the shameful treatment of those who do all of the hard work, all in the name of profit and the deluded opinion that it constitutes good management: It’s all vividly described by the Holroyds, with the added horror of the bloody consequences felt by the dolphins.
It must be admitted that, if you haven’t read the first two books - The Enchanted Mirror and The Mirror Cracks - some aspects of Shards from the Mirror will seem a little baffling. Old characters make dramatic returns (or, in a couple of cases, are merely mentioned) without any kind of explanation of who they are and why they are significant. However, the trilogy is meant to be read together, just like The Lord of the Rings’ three parts. Taking only the third part out of context, in either case, would be redundant. Just like its two prequels, though, Shards from the Mirror is incredibly compelling and its structure of short, sharp chapters makes it very easy and quick to read.
The book’s contents, however, makes reading it quite a challenge. Make no mistake, the tale is a brutal one, especially when you recognise the conflicted nature of its writer. Even as Capello begins to realise just how little care the Company has for its “assets”, he still strives to make his Perfect Pair the best dolphin show in the world. You quickly come to realise that what initially seems like a somewhat disjointed and confused writing style is actually the deterioration of Capello’s mental state. And you’re coming along for the ride.
A theme throughout the three books is Capello’s somewhat baffling connection with his dolphins, earning him the nickname of the ‘psychic trainer’. As with the previous two parts, this nebulous concept is very well described and delivered - far better than we can do here, so you’re going to have to read it for yourself to find out exactly what we mean! It gets a little extreme and pushes the boundaries of credibility right at the end but, after all that the reader has gone through alongside the character, you are left more than willing to believe him.
If you think that being categorised as fiction means that there will be a happy ending, prepare to be sorely disappointed. The ending is a sequence of crushing hammer-blows as what remains of Capello’s will and happiness is destroyed. To all intents and purposes, the happy ending came over 40 years later, with the publication of three hard-hitting and highly recommended books.
Ben Reeves - Journalist and Reviewer
THE PERFECT PAIR DOLPHIN TRILOGY – ROCKING THE BOAT FOR GLOBAL DOLPHINARIA AND ANTI-CAPTIVITY CHARITIES ALIKE
A national UK media block. Corporate book blocking. Covert messaging. All seemingly aided and abetted by many of the big-name anti-captivity charities. Intrigue and skulduggery, more reminiscent of an international spy thriller than a book series about dolphins.
Why are so many powerful individuals and organisations keen to keep this story from the public gaze? Just one of the many questions I put to co-author David C Holroyd on his recent visit to Pattaya.
“When my sister and I embarked on this project, we were warned to expect trouble from the multi-national conglomerate involved in the 1970s UK dolphin scene. So, to avoid legal complications, we chose to change all names of people and places, and print this true story under the fiction banner. However, in an act of defiance, we purposely left the names of the dolphins and animals unchanged.
“However, what we did not envisage was the ferocious opposition from what we had considered to be friendly organisations - the charities. Not only did they refuse to promote or endorse the trilogy, despite it being proofed by original dolphin logbooks, but one UK charity - Marine Connection - went so far as to mount a covert campaign to undermine it. A bizarre response from a charity that supposedly wants to close global dolphinaria.
“Marine Connection’s reasons remain a mystery, because whenever challenged, it refuses to give an answer. However, one charity insider was quick to tip us off: ‘They will never forgive you for telling it like it is!’ A quote that begs the question, is this charity truly about saving captive cetaceans, or is it about jealously protecting the financial support of a sympathetic public? A paradox we should all keep in mind whenever charitable organisations start to shake their begging bowls.”
Apart from the anti-captivity charities, the authors have also met opposition from some in the research community.
“There’s no doubt that our story is causing shockwaves as it openly questions the accepted classification of a dolphin. India now views dolphins as non-human persons, rather than simply ‘animals’. A dangerous concept for global dolphinaria and the world’s whaling nations, such as Japan, Norway and the Faroe Islands - countries which are currently butchering these incredible beings at an alarming rate, pushing some species to the edge of extinction.
“Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue should cetaceans be reclassified? The global community would be forced to view their slaughter as the eradication of a sentient race … genocide!
“So, it’s not hard to see why The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy is causing such dismay.”
Okay, we’ve dealt with the ethics – but what about the story itself?
“During the writing of this exposé, it was never our intention to preach or draw the reader into the realms of fantasy, even though the testimony of the young trainer featured often appears to take us there. This especially holds true when he speaks about a mind connection – a psychic link with his ‘beautiful Atlanteans’. A phenomenon that demonstrates the ease with which a cetacean and human mind can bond, and shows just how emotionally intelligent a dolphin truly is. Although this psychic connection might sound far-fetched, it’s already recognised as fact by some who work in the captive cetacean industry - something the aqua circus tries very hard to hide from its deluded public.”
“What the sceptics have to remember is that no one has ever had the courage to publicly challenge this trainer’s testimony. Those who worked with him could never offer a logical explanation for what they witnessed. In fact, some of their accounts border on the supernatural, making this story even more fascinating.”
Wow! I have a strong feeling that this trilogy’s insight into dolphin behaviour will, given time, have a profound effect on the way the public view these beautiful mammals. That said, I don’t expect the controversy surrounding it to go away any time soon.
I can only urge you not to let these extraordinary books pass you by. Read them - you will never view a dolphin in the same light again.
The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy by David C Holroyd and Tracy J Holroyd, comprising:
The Perfect Pair: The Enchanted Mirror
The Perfect Pair: The Mirror Cracks
The Perfect Pair: Shards from the Mirror
Available as hardback, paperback and e-book from all reputable online bookshops.
For more information, check out www.theperfectpairdolphintrilogy.com
Pattaya One Media Group
The Perfect Pair
You will never view a dolphin in the same light again
Big thank you to David C Holroyd writer of these great books for calling by today.
There are literally hundreds – if not thousands – of academic works written about dolphins. This is certainly not one of them, for within these pages dwells a graphic story of the plight of the commercial dolphin. The Perfect Pair: Shards from the Mirror is the final book in ‘The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy’ and provides a damning exposé of the captive cetacean industry.
The first book in the trilogy, The Perfect Pair: The Enchanted Mirror (Matador, 2012), is now a core text for the BA(Hons) English and Creative Writing course at the University of Salford, and won the Bronze Award in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards 2013. A chapter also won first prize in a prestigious literary competition held by the Manchester Evening News, and celebrity reviewers are already describing this final book as ‘a masterpiece’.
The Perfect Pair: Shards from the Mirror will appeal to those with an interest in the realities of animal training. Like Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s influential 2013 documentary Blackfish, this story will change people’s perception of captive dolphins forever.
Makes you think again about the way of a dolphin's life.
Pattaya One Media Group
This blog is as much for ex-cetacean trainers and presenters as it is for those dedicated activists who, for no financial gain, sacrifice much of their lives raising awareness about the plight of our captive Atlanteans. In stark contrast, I must add, to the leading animal charities who seem more motivated in promoting their own lucrative anti-captivity messages than in supporting their less-grand, unpaid counterparts.
How many activists have, on occasions, asked a major charity for help? And how many have been blatantly ignored …? Nuff said!
This unhealthy sense of competition between charities, activists and those involved in the captive industry has been around for decades – particularly apparent between cetacean trainers themselves:
Who trained the first forward somersault?
Who trained the best show in town?
Who will be the first to train the shadow ballet?
Fierce rivalries in which I played a huge part. Shameful obsessions that turned competing trainers into nothing short of snarling adversaries - a situation nurtured by opposing dolphinaria companies which, of course, hoped to reap the financial benefits.
This competitiveness is as real today as it was back in my day. Trainers, presenters, handlers, activists and anti-captivity charities all swept up by delusions of grandeur, all cloaked in glorious isolationism, whilst our beautiful Atlanteans continue to pay the price. This exploitive industry only continues to prosper, because we – as a collective – jealously refuse to work together.
So this is my plea to ex-dolphinaria workers globally:
Put your inbuilt competitive streaks aside and unite in working with the millions of dedicated activists. WE are the ones in the know, and only by working as a team can WE right OUR wrongs. Only TOGETHER can we put this vile industry to the sword.
www.theperfectpairdolphintrilogy.com is offering a blog spot to any ex-dolphinaria worker wishing to write their own exposé – a chance to feature on a website that reaches hundreds of people a day. If you genuinely regret your involvement in the captive cetacean industry and are still haunted by your experiences, here is your chance to secure some peace of mind.
We cannot change the past, but we CAN influence the future.
Thanks for listening.
David Capello, ex-trainer