29th April 2008
Their final joyful leap from the water had been a showstopper for years.
But an acrobatic display at the Florida theme park ended in horror when two dolphins collided head on as they jumped towards each other.
One was killed, although the other appeared unharmed.
Spectators saw the stunt go wrong at the last show of the day at Discovery Cove in Orlando.
Park officials say they are reviewing training practices.
The accident happened as the dolphins, Sharky and Tyler, performed their routine trick.
Sharky, pictured with a Discovery Cove worker, was killed in an acrobatic trick
But as they burst out of the deep water into a victory leap, they rammed into each other, sending Sharky, a 30-yearold bottlenose, tumbling back into the water.
Her trainers, who were treading water nearby, led her back to shallow water and cradled her as she lay dying.
"It was an unfortunate and random incident," said a park spokesman.
"It's an atmosphere where the dolphins pretty much say what they want to do. The trainers don't ever force them. It is all through positive reinforcement."
Discovery Cove promises visitors a 'close-up' dolphin encounter, including the chance to swim with the creatures.
More than 30 of them are in captivity at the park.
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