SNOW Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody has written a heartfelt response to animal lovers who angrily condemned the band for swimming with captive dolphins in Dubai.
Lightbody stopped short of an apology but admitted the experience left him feeling sad and wrote that dolphins should not perform tricks for “spoiled idiots (like myself)”.
A smiling Lightbody and bassist Paul Wilson were photographed with a dolphin at the Atlantis The Palm luxury resort in the city, where they were headlining the Sandance Festival.
But the picture backfired on the band after animal lovers across the planet took to the internet to condemn the musicians for appearing to support cruelty towards dolphins.
Lightbody, in a St Patrick’s Day post on his “i can hover” Tumblr site, confirmed that “tom, rico, pabs and me swam with the dolphins in the waterpark at the hotel in dubai”.
He added: “there are pictures on line of a (seemingly) very happy pabs [Wilson] and me with a dolphin. but pictures can be deceiving.
“i, like most, am no fan of animals being caged or confined in any way but we were in the hotel and they offered to let us have a session with the dolphins.”
Lightbody said he accepted the offer in the hope of having a “life affirming experience”.
But he admitted: “as much as i think they are majestic, graceful, intelligent and powerful creatures of magic and light they are deminished in captivity and i felt pangs of sadness.”
Describing the animals as “cared for” and their trainers as “dedicated”, Lightbody nonetheless admitted: “the thought burned in me then and lingers still now that they (or any wild mighty creature) should not be bound (ever) to do tricks for spoiled idiots (like myself).”
Lightbody wrote that he could feel the dolphin’s heart beat as the now notorious picture was taken.
“it was too however a further heartbreaking beacon to me that the wild is where it belongs,” he wrote.
“i know it’s an issue close to people’s hearts and they may condemn us for going no matter what i say,” he added.
“but the opportunity was there for us to interact with an animal that we have never been close to and i took that opportunity.
“the sadness it left me with can’t be helped either but there we are.”
He concluded: “the next time i swim with dolphins it will be unplanned as it will be in the wild and will happen naturally. or it won’t.
“maybe i’ll not be that lucky. peace, love and understanding. always. gL”
Animals lovers castigated the band after the pictures appeared.
One angry blogger, Danielle Marie, wrote: “So Snow Patrol, you endorse cutting off 90% of a dolphin’s life so people can swim with it in an aquarium while the animals dies after a short life from a performing marine version of a concentration camp.
She continued: “Cruel. How dare you? I demand you show humanity now if you possess it by stopping your support for these disgusting marine concentration camp equivalents.”
Lightbody’s explanation of the picture was met with overwhelming support from fans.
One blogger wrote: “gL im glad you swam with them – I saw the pictures & you & Pablo look so happy, lets be honest who an earth is going to miss an opportunity like this!? I think its silly that it has caused controversy, many people swim with dolphins.”
The photo-op is a favourite with celebrities who visit the luxury resort, attracting the likes of The Only Way Is Essex star Mark Wright as well as Kelly Brook, UB40 star Ali Campbell and Colleen Rooney.
The resort, which has declined to comment on the controversy, offers the opportunity to swim with their resident dolphin for £150 and promises to be an “unforgettable adventure.”