Famous dolphin trainer missing amid abuse investigation

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ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned an embattled incoming executive at the Georgia Aquarium is missing.

Aquarium leaders say they're absolutely stunned by his disappearance in the middle of their investigation into a video that activists say shows alleged dolphin abuse.

Jose Louis Barbero disappeared earlier this week, just two days before another troubling video showed up online.

Animal activists say the most recent video shows Barbero, a dolphin trainer, using aggressive training techniques at a theme park in Spain. Barbero is set to become a senior vice president at the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta.

Now, Spanish media is reporting Barbero is missing. He was last seen leaving his home in Spain on Tuesday.

Channel 2 Action News is working to confirm reports that say Spanish authorities launched a large land and sea search for Barbero. 

Channel 2's Aaron Diamant first broke this story last month, with the original video that animal activists claim shows Barbero hitting and kicking dolphins. 

In February, Georgia Aquarium CEO Mike Leven said, "We want Jose Barbero to get fair treatment, a fair judgment, and we will stand behind him until this video is proven to be true or false."

Aquarium leaders confirmed it hired consultants to analyze the video, and to see if it's authentic. A former FBI agent hired by the aquarium traveled to Spain as part of his investigation.

Leven also told Diamant that Barbero received death threats once the video surfaced.

After receiving the news about his disappearance Leven sent Diamant a statement that read, "We are very concerned. We hope he turns up soon and that everything is all right. Our thoughts are with him and his family."

Barbero was supposed to start work at the Georgia Aquarium the first week of March.


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