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Fury after legendary 40-year-old dolphin Nephele chokes to death on fake seaweed put in to ‘enrich’ her tank

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ANIMAL rights activists are furious as a legendary 40-year-old dolphin choked to death on fake seaweed.

Nephele died in January after the synthetic plant – that was placed in her tank for “enrichment” – ended up killing her.

A legendary dolphin choked to death on seaweed

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A legendary dolphin choked to death on seaweedCredit: Rex
The creature was 40-years-old

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The creature was 40-years-oldCredit: Rex

An autopsy confirmed the gentle creature suffocated after the artificial seaweed got lodged in her throat – sparking outrage.

Local media reported that Nephele’s death at Sweden’s Kolmården Zoo came as a surprise even though she was the oldest dolphin there.

The bottlenose dolphin was fighting fit one minute before she raised the alarm by moving in a strange way and sinking to the bottom of her enclosure.

Danny Groves, head of communications at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation told Newsweek: “Like us, dolphins need to come to the surface to breathe, and choking in this way must have been a traumatic experience for Nephele.”

Although Kolmården Zoo’s chief veterinarian Bim Boijsen said: “It was a quick process.

“When the vet arrived at the scene, she had already passed away.

“It is very sad. Nephele was a much-loved dolphin.”

Boijsen added that the artificial seaweed was put into the tank to provide “environmental enrichment” to “stimulate the animals” but it has since been removed.

The chief zookeeper said what happened was “very regrettable” and that he is “deeply saddened” by Nephele’s death.”

The founder of Swedish Animal rights organisation Animalkind, Daniel Rolke, claims Nephele was one of two dolphins controversially imported from Germany, and was originally called “Cindy.”

He said that In 1994 Kolmården zoo bought two female dolphins named Cindy and Mandy from Hagenback Zoo in Germany

They had reportedly been captured from the wild which was “controversial” and that initially the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency refused to allow them to be imported into Sweden.

This was because bottlenose dolphins were on the CITES Appendix II list, which meant that they could only be imported from the country where they were born or captured. 

Kent lifeboat crew spot rare DOLPHIN swimming in the River Thames

Daniel believes Cindy and Mandy, who were nine years old at the time, had been caught in Florida in 1989. 

He said: “Kolmården submitted a new application, in which they stated that they would conduct “research” on the dolphins in order to avoid receiving yet another rejection.

“So Cindy and Mandy were imported despite strong protests, and when they arrived in Sweden, Kolmården’s dolphinarium renamed them to Nephele and Delphi to make people forget the connection. 

“Delphi died at Kolmården Zoo in 2007, in connection with a birth. And now Nephele is gone, too.”

Kolmården Zoo, which charges just £3.81 for its dolphin shows and still has a dolphin enclosure with 11 dolphins in it despite promising in 2021 to close it. 

The zoo’s website states: “We knew that dismantling the dolphinarium could take a long time, as our highest priority is to ensure that the dolphins are well.

“In the meantime, the dolphinarium is open as usual.”

According to a scientific paper published in the Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens in 2022, “environmental enrichment can be used to improve the welfare of dolphins in zoos and aquariums.”

The death sparked uproar from animal activists

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The death sparked uproar from animal activistsCredit: Rex
The creature died at Sweden's Kolmården Zoo

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The creature died at Sweden’s Kolmården ZooCredit: Rex

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