A baby dolphin has died in Argentina after being handled by large crowd for photos.
According to reports, two dolphins were picked up from the ocean for the people to see. A spokeswoman for the Argentine Wildlife Foundation said that one of the dolphins–a baby Franciscana/La Plata–had died.
The incident happened at a resort of Santa Terestia, northeast Buenos Aires.
Reports say that the crowd paraded the endangered animal, passing it around, taking pictures, and stroking it. It was reportedly left for dead in the sand. One report said that people actually continued taking pictures while it was abandoned on the sand.
According to a spokesman for the Australian arm of World Animal protection, the animal was used for “entertainment purposes. Condemning the behaviour, she said: “This terribly unfortunate event is an example of the casual cruelty people can inflict when they use animals for entertainment purposes, without thinking of the animal’s needs.”
“At least one of these dolphins suffered a horrific, traumatic and utterly unnecessary death, for the sake of a few photographs,” she added.
The incident made Argentina’s Wildlife Foundation release a reminder about the vulnerable species: “This occasion serves to inform the public about the urgent necessity to return these dolphins to the sea as soon as possible if they find them on the shore. It is fundamental that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts now.”
The foundation explained that the Franciscana cannot stay out of the water for very long because it has a thick, fatty skin that gives it heat. This means that it can easily dehydrate and die when removed from the water.
The species is listes as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Learn more about the Franciscana here.