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Is this dolphin being playful or is it brain damaged? Sea World says 'drunk' looking dolphin sticking its tongue out at tourists is fine but expert warns it could be suffering

October 7, 2015 by Alisha Buaya  

Daily Mail Australia

Bizarre footage of a dolphin repeatedly sticking its tongue out at bystanders while in captivity has emerged.

The dolphin at the Sea World marine animal park on the Gold Coast, in Queensland, is seen moving its head in the shallow water and poking out its pink tongue as if it's too big for its mouth.

Dr Verné Dove, a Marine Mammal Veterinarian, told Daily Mail Australia it is likely the dolphin has a 'neurological impairment’.

‘It could be affecting the cranial nerve that innervates the tongue, this may be attributable to a brain lesion, a tumour or a brain parasite,' she warned.

'A similar neurological condition called “fly snapping” is sometimes seen in dogs. This dolphin is not healthy and needs a full neurological assessment as soon as possible,' Dr Dove said.

Despite the dolphin looking rather despondent, Founding Director of Dolphin Research Australia Dr Elizabeth Hawkins told Daily Mail Australia that she believes the dolphin was presenting 'novel behaviour', not unusual among dolphins in captivity and in the wild.

The park goers in the background can be heard laughing, including a couple who are believed to have filmed the video.

'Why does he do that for? Its so weird,' a lady says.

'He's drunk...are you drunk?'the man says jokingly.

Then the dolphin is seen moving back into deeper water, swimming around and still sticking its tongue out.

'The dolphin in that video is somewhat interacting with them in somewhat a charismatic with the bystander,' Dr Hawkins said

Dr Hawkins said that as a social group the dolphins at Sea World have 'seeming developed their own as social interaction', in particular sticking their tongues out.

A Sea World spokesman said the dolphin was exhibiting playful behaviour.

In a statement from Australia for Dolphins, CEO Sarah Lucas said: 'The science is clear, dolphins suffer in captivity'.

'There are no dolphin welfare standards in Queensland so Sea World has minimal legislative oversight. The 31 dolphins at Sea World deserve a better life than day in day out being forced to perform circus tricks for frozen fish.'

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