When we announced the imminent release of Belinda Fellgate: HellCat, we received several emails from activist friends telling us that there was outrage behind the scenes – so-called activists bad-mouthing us via private message.
They know that the new book is a young adult fantasy. They know that we were writers and artists before we wrote the dolphin trilogy. It seems they're not even happy about us returning to our 'old jobs'. They don't want us to do anything that might attract public attention. They hoped we'd simply fade away. Well – shock and horror! - the HellCat is coming whether they like it – or not!
We eventually got confirmation that the charity block of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy was down to Margaux Dodds and Gaye Hunter of the UK charity Marine Connection. They were trying to protect the interests of Ric O'Barry – a man who didn't want to share the anti-captivity platform with another ex-trainer from around the same era. On discovering this skulduggery, we announced it on social media - and three things happened. First, we and several activist friends were hacked by two people who claimed to be personal friends of Ric O'Barry. Second, one of Dolphin Project's senior team members opened a Twitter account with the sole purpose of challenging former head trainer and whistle-blower, David Capello. Third, several anti-captivity activists got in touch to tell us that the O'Barry team had also attacked them in various ways, including hacking and threats.
You can read the explosive blog that brought all this underhand trickery to a head by clicking on the link below – and be sure to read the comments, especially those made by other former dolphin handlers and Sugarloaf Sanctuary workers.
A friend recently complained that staff witnessing abuse in various industries are unwilling to speak out. That’s because whistle-blowers are treated so badly and get a reputation. Not only do they lose their jobs (be it being pushed or being forced to jump), but they also have great difficulty getting work elsewhere. Prospective employers think they can never be trusted. If people have a job and want to keep it, they quickly realise that they have to keep their heads down and their mouths shut.
The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy was not my story, but I helped to write and edit it. In doing so, I was vilified by the very charities I once contributed to. I lost all my lecturing work. I lost my publishing work. All of it.
I worked on an award-winning story that was emotionally draining; a story that I believed would give the charities ammunition against the captive industry; a story that I believed would educate the public and stop them buying that ticket to a dolphinarium. In my naivety, I didn't foresee that Capello would be viewed as a threat to O'Barry; didn't foresee that the charities would view us as a threat to their professed expertise and incomes; didn't foresee that the UK activists would turn on us and tell us that our help wasn't needed or wanted.
But we are not the only ones who have suffered. On an amusing note, I have commented on the testimonies of two celebrity activists who were complaining about the charities turning on them. In both instances, the celebrities involved replied to every comment of support … except mine. It seems that when the charities turned on US, it was deemed to be justified. When the charities turned on THEM, it was NOT.
Laughable when you think about it, but that’s people for you - one of the many reasons why I have always preferred animals to people … a mindset that stemmed from childhood and has only been reinforced throughout the years.
Tracy J Holroyd, Cert Ed, BA(Hons), Member of the Society of Authors
Freelance writer for D C Thomson
Children’s History of Manchester
Children’s History of Lancashire
The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy
Belinda Fellgate: HellCat