This site has Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

‘The Last Dolphin King’ Ending Explained: What Happened with Jose Luis Barbero?

Welcome to the Ending Explained for The Last Dolphin King, the newest Netflix documentary focusing on the life and work of Jose Luis Barbero, the Dolphin King. The documentary is directed by Luis Ansonera Herves and Ernest Riera. The film focuses on Barbero’s life and his rise and fall as one of the best dolphin trainers in the world. The documentary also makes a compelling case against captivity for these animals in order to entertain people around the world.

The documentary is incredibly well-directed and presents the facts surrounding the rise and fall of Jose Luis Barbero in the most comprehensive and compelling of ways. The documentary also never manages to take completely one side or the other in the argument it presents. Jose Luis Barbero is never played out as a villain, but as a person who committed many mistakes, a flawed human just like everyone else. It also avoids presenting those who caused his fall down in any villainous way. It might be one of the most balanced documentaries in recent memory.

RELATED: 15 Best Movies About Dolphins You Just Need To Watch

The following paragraphs contain spoilers for The Last Dolphin King. Read at your own risk.

Who Was Jose Luis Barbero And Why Were People After Him?

The documentary begins by introducing us to its main subject, a dolphin trainer named Jose Luis Barbero, from Spain. Barbero became, through many years of hard work, the most revered and famous dolphin trainer in the world. He managed to put Marineland, a water park, in Mallorca, on the map. The park was so famous that even the Spanish royal family and Princess Diana were among its visitors. Jose Luis also won numerous awards all over the world, and he became a constant presence in the dolphin industry.

The documentary focuses a lot of its running time on presenting Jose Luis Barbero as a person. Someone who battled against giant corporations that only wanted aquariums, and water parks as a source of money and didn’t care for the animals. He also managed to establish the promotion of dolphin therapy for kids with several conditions. Jose Luis did a lot of good while he was alive, and many friends and co-workers remember him as a happy man who was a true professional, someone who really strived to find perfection in what he did.

However, that level of commitment to his work also meant that Barbero was a very strict boss. He demanded perfection from his co-workers and even more from his sons, who also tried to become part of the dolphin industry. He was a rough, and sometimes even rude, boss. There were many complaints from co-workers, and apprentices who felt humiliated while working with him. There were many signs that Barbero might not have been the nicest person during his time in Marineland and other parks.

One day, he receives an invitation from the newly established Georgia Aquarium, the biggest aquarium in the United States, to become its vice president. Barbero accepts, and he becomes the pride of every other trainer in Spain. What no one saw coming was the fact that this step up in his career would have terrible consequences.

What Happened With Jose Luis Barbero?

After Barbero receives the invitation to become the vice president of the Georgia Aquarium, there is a lot of celebration and pride among his family, friends, and co-workers. Barbero had managed to go as far as someone of them even imagined they could go in this career as dolphin trainers. However, some other people were not happy with Barbero going to hold such an important position in such an important place, and so they attacked Barbero in the worst possible way.

They released a video in which Barbera could be seen mistreating the animals during their training sessions. He would scream, hit, and kick the dolphins until they understood what was being asked of him. This led to an investigation by the Georgia Aquarium to see if the video was real and if these events really happened. Many friends who were interviewed during the investigation tried to speak in favor of Jose Luis, but the damage was already done. They had destroyed his life completely.

It is revealed during the documentary that many years before this event, Barbero had been fired from Marineland by a new administration. This almost led him to kill himself. His wife admits that Barbero sometimes seemed more involved with the animals than with humans. It seems like the idea of not being able to work with the dolphins was terrible enough for Barbero that he imagined no way to live like that.

Barbero returned to Spain from the USA and tried to save his name by hiring a lawyer and many other things, but it was too late. Social media had chosen him as a target, and the attacks were relentless. Barbero said goodbye to his wife one morning and then disappeared for many days until he was found dead in his car. Marineland continues to be in business, and the people involved seem to have no remorse about what happened; they didn’t kill Barbero, his own guilt and despair did.

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.