A "disturbing" video of a Dubai dolphin trainer straddling a dolphin as it slides into a pool has reportedly prompted an investigation.
According to conservation and animal welfare Instagram account Cetacean Inspiration, the video was initially posted onto social media by one of the trainers at the Dubai Dolphinarium. However, that trainer's Instagram has since been deleted.
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It's unclear when the incident occurred, but Cetacean Inspiration shared the footage - which shows a female trainer sitting on the dolphin's back as it dives into a pool - last week.
The account called it "worrying and rather disturbing".
"This disgusting behaviour is not only dangerous for both the dolphin and the trainer, but it could cause severe harm," the account said.
"Bottlenose dolphins, who can weigh an upward of 630lbs [285kg], are not designed to be on land, as their bodies cannot support their own weight."
It said considering an adult is also sitting on the dolphin, it would be fair to say the dolphin is "literally being crushed".
The account claimed the facility had acquired dolphins through "Taiji dolphin drives" - a form of animal hunting.
"These dolphins have been completely stripped of their freedom, now finding themselves being exploited and abused solely for the purpose of entertainment and profit."
According to United Arab Emirates (UAE) newspaper Gulf News, authorities in Dubai are now investigating.
Gulf News said it had contacted the dolphinarium but was told it wouldn't comment until after authorities made a "decision" on the case.
Dr Elsayed Ahmad Mohammed, the Mena regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told Gulf News that it was concerning seeing a human straddling the animal.
"Regardless of whether it’s a few seconds or not, it’s wrong. It is animal cruelty," Mohammed said.
Many Instagram users who commented on the post agreed.
"This is shameful and Dubai Dolphinarium should be held accountable," said one, while another user said: "Mind blowing and infuriating. How ignorant can humans be?"
The post has gone viral with more than 17,000 views and hundreds of comments.
Dubai Dolphinarium describes itself on its website as "UAE's most unique indoor family entertainment & is now one of the most loved Dubai tourist attractions". It boasts a dolphin and seal show as well as a dolphin meet and greet.