I met Suzette for the first time at the end of April 2015 on a trip with dolphin advocates to raise awareness in Hong Kong. She was very friendly and helpful, she showed us around and established contacts. As a committed vegan she organised a very enjoyable vegan evening for us. Later she arranged a dolphin watching trip to see threatened Chinese White Dolphins, one of the issues she campaigned on. Her passion for the cause of dolphins was very noticeable.
One day we observed her talking with an ivory saleswoman in her 70s. Softly and gently she explained the problematic nature of the ivory trade to her. Her ways were so empathetic that she could engage such people in reasoned conversation, this was one of her talents.
We stayed in touch after the Hong Kong trip and I had the privilege to get to know Suzette a bit better. Her passion for the protection of animals and nature was such that even during her holidays in Europe she attended a protest against dolphinaria and also a screening event of Blackfish. She was a woman who walked the talk and became a role model for many, particularly young people.
One of her happiest moments last year was the publication of the article The Dolphin’s Smile – The biggest Illusion on Earth, by Shiray Tan, a 13-year-old girl from Malaysia, on Ceta Journal. Shiray wrote:
“In July 2015 I was invited by Suzette Ackermann, an independent animal activist, to present my story at a show in Hong Kong. I hoped the audience, including the children, would remember my story for the rest of their lives, so that they would never visit a marine park ever again. I did get a great reception but I really don’t need audiences telling me my speech was amazing, all I want to hear is, “Listening to your story has changed me. I have made my pledge and I will never visit a marine park again.””
Shiray had become aware of the topic through Suzette’s posts on social media and before long two like-minded people found common ground. As a person who referred to herself “as a steward for the next generation,” and said, “we need to guide these kids the right way,” Suzette again walked the talk.
She saw education as the key to many problems and often used her talents for dance and yoga to get her message across and raise funds for animal organisations. Of Doga, which is yoga with dogs, she said,
This is my way to bring humans and animals closer. How can people protect something, when they have no connection to it?
She was always happy to connect people in the cause of animals and then willing to help them too, a very special person. Her loss leaves a huge gap, Suzette was truly one of a kind and will be greatly missed by all of us.
Dance on dear Suzette
May you be in peace and filled with love from all of us… You will surely be missed but I am glad that you are finally relieve from pain and suffering.
It’s never easy to say goodbye but I will remember your happy smile and your love to all the animals and to this world.
My heart is filled with sadness but one step at a time I’ll pick myself up and carry your light and spirit with me.
Thank you for coming into my life and I am truly grateful to have met you.
Who will teach doga? Who will teach belly dance? Who will voice out for voiceless? Who will promote humane diet?
We will, your friends and students will carry on for you, we shall be more united, shall not let you down, shall share your love and compassion to others.
Thank you for being such a good friend of mine, thank you for your love and compassion.
It’s time for you to rest in peace, it’s time for us to move on.
I love you, rest well, my dear.
I have no words just beautiful memories to share…
There’s a Chinese saying:
“Why do good people always die so soon?”
People don’t understand these angels have their missions, they are very busy showing goodness here and then elsewhere.
Sometimes we just shouldn’t be too selfish and try to keep them for too long. And the goodness they have shown will stay with us forever…
No doubt Suzette is one of these angels.
Whenever someone asked me at a talk: “What can I do to help the dolphins,” the first person that always came to my mind as an example would be Suzette. As someone who is very passionate about dolphin conservation, Suzette never asks me what she can do to help the dolphins; instead, she always finds the creative ways to take direct action and get everyone involved. She is a “doer”, and she let her actions speak louder than words.
Over the years, I have the privilege to collaborate with Suzette to help raise awareness on many different dolphin issues. She is a professional dancer, so she figures that she can first educate her students, by organizing fund-raisers and dance events, and she invited me to speak at many of her events.
She is also extremely passionate about the plight of captive dolphins, which we share the same passion, so we often show up at the doorsteps of Ocean Park and Japanese Embassy, and spread the message that dolphins do not belong in captivity.
I always admire her great energy, passion, and dedication to her friends at ocean, and try her very best to tell people not to buy a ticket to see a dolphin show. I still vividly remember the joy shown on her face when I brought her to see my friends in Hong Kong waters, the wild Chinese White Dolphins. In our same belief, that is where all dolphins belong to.
Although I miss her dearly, I can tell that now she is swimming with the dolphins at where she belongs – the ocean.
If someone ask me again how they can help the dolphins, I will tell the story of my cherished friend, Suzette, on how she can seize every opportunity she has, to find ways to help our dolphins at sea. She is the best example for all dolphin-lovers and ocean advocates.
Samuel Hung Ka Yiu
I hope you saw my messages on Facebook. I knew about your cancer quite a long time ago, but I never wanted to invade your privacy because I knew you didn’t like it. But when things became dangerous, I made sure you knew how much I appreciated you. I miss you Suzette.
As I sent the messages, I was waiting for hours and hours, days and days to see the word ‘read’. Even if there was no reply, so long as you’d watched the video I made and listened to what I truly feel about you, I would have been so happy. But that word never appeared on the screen of my phone and I know it’s impossible now. I miss you so much, and I know all of us do too.
It’s hard, but we will get through this, for you. From belly dancing to saving animals, you’ve always been the best hero any of us could ever ask for. And if you’re ever watching up there, I hope you’re proud of me.
We will continue raising awareness for the animals, and spreading your words of wisdom, starting our journey from where you passed it on to us. Your impact on our lives is very deep and I thank you for changing how we thought about animals, for changing the fate of animals in captivity, for saving poor innocent animals, and most importantly, thanks for being the best mermaid ever.
As Em Bettinger said, be a mermaid and make waves, and I guess you did. You’ve created the most massive wave in the ocean and it’s time for you to just float on the waves and swim with the dolphins.
I love you Suzette! Thank you, for everything. Til we meet again.
Dolphin watching trip to the threatened Chinese White Dolphins in Hong Kong. Footage: Sasha Abdolmajid