Dolphin hunters threaten "Flipper" trainer

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Dolphin hunters threaten "Flipper" trainer

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The Japanese dolphin hunting season has begun, defying international criticism by anti-hunting campaigners.

One protest in Tokyo was attended by 150 people. There to present an internationally-signed petition was Rick O’Barry, the former dolphin-trainer for the 1960s TV show “Flipper”, and star of an Oscar-winning documentary about a Japanese hunt.

He wanted to go to the Fisheries Ministry but went to the US embassy instead because of security fears.

“We represent 1.7 million people and we are asking President Obama to please engage the new (Japanese) government in dialogue about this issue and see if we can abolish this practice,” said the 70-year-old campaigner.

The team that shot “The Cove” worked undercover, using hidden cameras to elude angry fishermen. O’Barry wanted to return to Taiji, the small town featured in the film but steered clear because of threats from ultranationalist groups.

The documentary shows a handful of fishermen who herd a flock of dolphins into a cove. The water turns red, revealing what the campaigners say is the cruel mass slaughter of intelligent animals.

Japan allows about 20,000 dolphins a year to be hunted, mostly for meat, and argues it is no different from killing cows or pigs.

Pro-hunting groups have tried to stop “The Cove” from being shown in cinemas.