Ivan Golubev was a hyperactive child until his school in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine was attacked by gunfire. The trauma left him unable to to speak.
A few months later he was on holiday in Odessa and his mother, Anna, decided to try dolphin therapy. “By the end of the first session he started talking again, and I just couldn’t stop crying,” she says, as her son splashes round in the pool as part of his follow-up treatment.
The therapy is one of the many dolphin-related attractions in the Black Sea port city, marketed at children with learning difficulties, pregnant women and more recently soldiers injured in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Staff at the Nemo centre, who include five psychologists, says there is 1,000-year old evidence that animals can help aid mental and physical rehabilitation, but some clinical experts dispute the benefits while others question whether it …