Dolphinaris Arizona’s Tanks Have Been Emptied

Dolphinaris Arizona’s Tanks Have Been Emptied

After the recent deaths of four bottlenose dolphins, Dolphinaris Arizona has closed its doors, with many hoping that it will permanently end its captive dolphin program.

Despite pressure from locals and nation-wide concerns, Dolphinaris opened in Scottsdale, Arizona in late 2016. While keeping dolphins in a concrete tank in the desert is clearly cruel, Dolphinaris insisted on moving forward with its plans to exploit dolphins in swim-with programs.

Within 16 months of one another, four of the facility’s eight dolphins died. In 2017, Bodie died from a “rare muscle disease,” and Alia from an “acute bacterial infection.” Khloe succumbed to a parasitic infection in December 2018, and Kai passed away in January.

Like all nonhuman animals in North America, these dolphins were viewed as property. Some were on loan from Dolphin Quest, a Hawaii-based company. In light of these deaths, Dolphin Quest terminated its loan agreement with Dolphinaris, and the remaining four dolphins have been transferred to a theme-park facility in St. Thomas. While this may be better than life in the desert, some have raised questions about the welfare standards at the dolphins’ new home.

Dolphinaris has said in media reports that it intends to reopen as a business that does not exploit dolphins any longer. However, it remains to be seen whether it attempts to purchase more dolphins at some point in the future.

Dolphin Free AZ has consistently raised concerns about Dolphinaris and has urged the facility to end its dangerous captive dolphin program. "Dolphinaris Arizona has marketed its swim-with-the-dolphins programs as ’dolphin experiences.’ What has happened at that facility since it has opened to the public less than three years ago is not a ’dolphin experience.’ It is more characteristic of ’a dolphin experiment’,” says Patricia Cady, co-founder of Dolphin Free AZ.

We will continue to put pressure on Dolphinaris, especially if the facility decides to attempt to acquire captive dolphins once more. 

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