Dolphins forced to jump through flaming hoops

Graphic and disturbing footage has emerged showing dolphins forced to jump through flaming hoops at an animal show.

Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project captured the video, saying it shows the inhumane treatment dolphins suffer when held illegally for the three circus companies in Indonesia.

The footage has been unearthed in the aftermath of Japan's annual dolphin slaughter at Taiji.

In the video, the dolphins swim in a highly chlorinated pool and leap through the rings of fire, which the Dolphin Project says burns their sensitive skin and eyes.

In another scene two dolphins swim on their backs, holding basketballs between their fins.

When the dolphins make mistakes, their trainer beats the water with a metal pole.

When the show is over, the dolphins are captured in nets and dragged out of the pool and packed into tiny travelling crates.

''As hard as it is to believe, dolphin traveling circuses are a big hit in Indonesia. It's pretty barbaric," says the Dolphin Project's Lincoln O'Barry.

"It's the only time I've seen dolphins jumping through a hoop of fire. It's definitely something from a bygone era.

''While all captive dolphin facilities have welfare issues, the circuses in Indonesia seem decidedly crueller because they're travelling.

''The animals are frequently hauled out of their plastic performing pools and loaded into the back of trucks along with other animals as the circuses move from town to town.

''The transportation is so stressful for the animals that many of the dolphins die due to this stress and lack of proper care. There is also evidence that all of the dolphins have all been caught illegally from the wild.''

The Dolphin Project says there are 72 dolphins in captivity in Indonesia.