The dolphin trainer tapped to be the new senior vice president of the Georgia Aquarium has been found dead inside a vehicle in a parking lot at the Palma de Mallorca Airport in Spain, according to a report by CNN. Jose Luis Barbero had been reported missing last week after a second video of him allegedly abusing dolphins in his care was posted online.
Mike Leven, Chairman and CEO of the Georgia Aquarium, released a statement to the media:
It was with sadness, outrage and frustration that I received the news this morning that Jose Luis Barbero was found dead in Spain. Initial reports suggest that he allegedly ended his own life. He was a husband, a father and a grandfather who dedicated nearly four decades to caring for animals. We at Georgia Aquarium were proud to have had him serve periodically as a consultant to our organization over the past eight years. His service with us was exemplary.
After allegations were levied against him, we took the situation very seriously. Georgia Aquarium began a search for truth in hopes of disproving these unsubstantiated claims. Sadly, he and his family received death threats, and groups and individuals rushed to judge him. He was not given the right or the privilege to be considered innocent until proven guilty, a principle I hold dear. His death is untimely, unnecessary and unjust.
Read the rest of Leven’s statement and more about Barbero at our media affiliate, CBS46.