A dolphin that won its freedom from a theme park via court order three years ago has been spotted in waters off South Korea, with a baby in tow.
Sampal, a bottlenose dolphin, was caught in fishing nets off South Korea's Jeju Island in 2009. While South Korean law required she be returned to the water, she was instead sold to a theme park, where she labored for the next four years performing for her supper.
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But, in March 2013, South Korea's high court ordered that Sampal, along with four other illegally captured dolphins, be released back into the wild.
Now, three years after her release (technically she jumped her release date by a bit when she escaped a temporary holding area), Yonhapnews reports Sampal has been spotted alongside a 1-meter (3.2-foot) baby dolphin by a team of South Korean scientists.
The researchers think the baby is likely some four to six months old, and mom Sampal is estimated at 13 to 15 years old. The mother-child tandem has been seen swimming together often for several weeks now, according to Yonhapnews.
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Sampal's story is considered a success for those championing reintroduction of captive animals into the wild.
"We now have a solid example of not only a successful release of a dolphin back into the wild to her pod, but the successful birth of her offspring after years in captivity," an expert with the Wild Dolphin Project told National Geographic.
H/T National Geographic