In the fishing town of Coffs Harbour on the east coast of Australia there is a marine park called Dolphin Marine Magic. In the marine park there is a small pool, and in that pool is Bucky.
Although he is in remission from cancer and one of the oldest dolphins in captivity, Bucky performs two shows a day, 365 days a year. He tail walks across the water on demand and performs flips and elaborate tricks in return for frozen fish. Members of the public line up to brush his teeth, pat his belly, and ‘ride’ Bucky around the pool.
Bucky shares his crowded tank with five other dolphins, four of which he is the father. The park is also home to numerous seals, marine birds, and turtles.
While all may appear calm on the surface, Dolphin Marine Magic has a secret: It does not meet animal welfare standards. The pools at Dolphin Marine Magic are too small, the animals are overworked, and the facilities do not meet legal requirements.
While it advertises itself as a rescue and rehabilitation facility, Dolphin Marine Magic has admitted under pressure that it does not have the capacity to rehabilitate sick and injured dolphins - a legal obligation for all facilities that display dolphins in Australia.