One of the tourists accused of handing around a dolphin on an Argentinian beach has said it was dead before people started taking selfies with it.
Footage emerged on Thursday appearing to show the small animal being picked up and carried to a beach where it was passed around a huge crowd of tourists.
Initial reports suggested the dolphin had overheated and died of dehydration while being passed around at the Santa Teresita beach, just south of Buenos Aires.
In the video, onlookers can be heard saying “take it to the water” and “poor thing, don’t touch it”.
The incident drew intense criticism from animal rights groups with a spokeswoman for Australia’s arm of World Animal Protection telling ABC it was “an example of the casual cruelty people can inflict when they use animals for entertainment purposes, without thinking of the animal’s needs”.
Comedian and animal rights activist, Ricky Gervais, posted a screenshot of the article on his Instagram page saying: "stupid c*nts".
But now an Argentinian television station, Telefe Noticias, has interviewed the tourist who reportedly took the photos, Hernan Coria, who said it was dead when it arrived.
The rarest animals in the world
The rarest animals in the world
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2/23 Glass frog
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BBC via YouTube
3/23 Walking fish (climbing perch)
A bizarre and seemingly super-powered fish which can walk out of water and breathe on land for up to six days could spell a 'major disaster' for wildlife, scientists have warned. The aggressive climbing perch, which has lungs as well as gills, has been discovered in northern Australia
4/23 Frilled shark
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5/23 Black Sea Devil anglerfish
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Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
6/23 Blue lobster
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AP Photo/Meghan LaPlante
7/23 Two-headed dolphin
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8/23 Conjoined whales
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9/23 Fish-eating spider (Dolomedes facetus)
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Peter Liley, Moffat Beach, Queensland
10/23 Dancing frogs
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Creative Commons. Photo: jidanchaomian, via Flickr.
12/23 Migaloo the white whale
Migaloo the white whale, sighted at the Bernard Islands
Twitter/Migaloo the Whale
13/23 Domed land snail
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14/23 Leaf-tailed gecko
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15/23 Flying frog
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16/23 Megamouth shark
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17/23 A Maui's dolphin
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Irish Farmers Journal
19/23 Omani owl
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20/23 Albino dolphin
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21/23 Stone curlew
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22/23 Mascarene Petrel
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23/23 Albino cobra
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He explained that it was a very hot day and several dead dolphins had already washed up on the beach that day.
He said: “He was dead when he arrived on the coast. We took him back to the sea and he didn’t swim back out”.
According to rumour debunking site Snoopes, dolphins are at risk of heat exhaustion when they are removed from the water because they have thick skin and fat layers designed to keep them warm in cool waters.Reuse content