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.
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.
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