What do you do to something you love? Give it hot dogs and beer, right? Wrong, guys, if that something is a dolphin.
A bottlenose dolphin named "Beggar" was found dead last Friday afternoon, floating in the Intracoastal Waterway off Florida.
Born in the back room of a Victorian public house to a prostitute who later died of typhus, young Beggar eventually made his way to the waters of Sarasota County, where his personable manner and boldness around passenger boats quickly made him popular.
And also maybe killed him, whoops.
According to the Mote Marine Laboratory, over the course of 100 hours of observation between March and June of 2011, dolphin researchers documented 3,600 interactions (up to 70 an hour) between Beggar and humans. There were 169 attempts to feed him 520 different food items, including the aforementioned hot dogs and beer. He bit nine people, probably because he mistook them for hot dogs and beer.
Though the level of decomposition of Beggar's body rendered it impossible to determine a definitive cause of death, investigators noted that he appeared to have multiple health problems stemming from his interactions with humans.
His body displayed numerous apparent boat wounds. One of his three stomachs contained fishing hooks and pieces of fishing line. (The third stomach was host to "several ulcers"; the second stomach most likely contained Beggar's hopes and dreams, but its contents were not revealed).
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, feeding or petting a dolphin is a violation punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. Unfortunately, soliciting handouts from humans is not illegal, so Beggar never suffered any legal repercussions as a result of his continued panhandling.
Other possible contributing factors to Beggar's death include two nasty injuries from stingray barbs (one near his small intestine, one near a lung), and the fact that he had just about reached the dyin' age for dolphins.
(He was over 20 years old, and, according to Sea World, most wild dolphins die around the two decade mark.)