The dolphin races around the pool while a group of swimmers stand on the shallow end. He is similar to those who jump through hoops and do acrobatics in theme parks.
But this marine animal is a robot.
“When I first saw the dolphin, I thought it might be real,” said a woman who swam with the remote-controlled creature.
Edge Innovations, an American engineering company with an animatronics and special effects division in California, designed the dolphin for an educational pilot program.
It is hoped that the lifelike animatronics used in Hollywood films could one day entertain crowds in theme parks instead of keeping wild animals captive. Swimmers could dive with robotic great white sharks or even reptiles that filled the Jurassic seas millions of years ago.
“There are currently around 3,000 dolphins in captivity, generating billions of dollars just for dolphin experiences, so obviously there is an appetite to love dolphins and learn about them,” said Walt Conti, Founder and CEO of Edge Innovations.
“And so we want to use this appetite and offer different ways to fall in love with the dolphin.”
Animatronics could bring back audiences turned off by parks with live animals, Conti said.
Around 20 European countries have already banned or restricted the presence of wild animals in circuses.
At Edge’s headquarters in Hayward, Calif., A program for schools in collaboration with TeachKind was on a 250kg animatronic dolphin with medical grade silicone skin, part of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Edge also made the aquatic creatures used in the Hollywood blockbusters “Free Willy”, “Deep Blue Sea” and “Anaconda”.
“This pilot’s idea is really to create a kind of ‘Sesame Street’ underwater,” said Roger Holzberg, creative director for Edge’s animatronic program.
“These characters have taught a generation how to deal with different aspects of humanity in ways that have never been imagined. And that’s what we dream of on this project.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)