Dolphin Trainer Found Dead: Jose Luis Barbero caught on camera kicking dolphins in an Atlanta aquarium has been found dead in Spain

Dolphin Trainer Found Dead: Jose Luis Barbero caught on camera kicking dolphins in an Atlanta aquarium has been found dead in Spain

Dolphin trainer Jose Luis Barbero was found dead inside his vehicle in the public parking lot of the Palma de Mallorca airport.

Authorities say the case is being treated as a suicide.

Barbero was tapped to be the Senior Vice President at the Georgia Aquarium, but recently faced accusations that he was abusing dolphins in Spain.

The Georgia Aquarium acknowledged that he was missing Friday. “We hope he turns up soon and that everything is all right. Our thoughts are with him and his family,” said Mike Leven, Chairman and CEO of the Georgia Aquarium.

On Saturday afternoon, Leven released the following statement:

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.

We were not given the chance to thoughtfully and thoroughly review the allegations against him before activists, consultants and some in our own community tortured him with enough hatred to cause him to allegedly take his own life. I hope the death of Jose Luis Barbero teaches those who were quick to condemn him a lesson about being hasty to charge and indict.

We will continue to operate Georgia Aquarium with dedication, devotion and pride in how we care for and about our animals — as well as the people affiliated with our organization. We will continue to serve the community and be advocates for animals around the world, as we have done since our founding. We will never condone any injustice, such as the one done to Jose Luis Barbero.

We mourn with his family, his friends and all those who must contend with this terrible loss.