It’s been a mere four months since the last dolphin death at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage of Las Vegas. And now, another dolphin has died at the facility — bringing the total to four dolphin deaths in less than 10 months.
Duchess was 48 years old at the time of her passing, which was announced on January 25, 2023. Captured off the Gulf of Mexico in Texas in September 1981, she was one of the five original dolphins at The Mirage. Before being transferred there in October 1990, Duchess was carted around to a staggering eight other facilities in the span of nine years*:
- wild-caught, Gulf of Mexico, Texas to Quinlan Marine Attractions (Sept/81)
- to Dinnes, possibly Dolphin Connection (Dec/82)
- to Milwaukee County Zoo (May/87)
- to Dolphin Connection (Oct/87)
- to Milwaukee County Zoo (May/88)
- to Dolphin Connection (Oct/88)
- to Milwaukee County Zoo (May/89)
- to Dolphin Connection (Sept/89)
- to Mirage Dolphin Habitat (Oct/90 – Jan/23)
In 2022, within a span of six months, three dolphins died at the facility. Bella, a 13 year-old dolphin died of acute pancreatitis on April 14. She was born at the facility to parents Huf-n-Puf and Lightning. Four and-a-half months later, Maverick, a 19 year-old dolphin died on September 1 after prolonged treatment for a lung infection. He was born at The Mirage to parents Duchess and Banjo. Twenty-four days later on September 24, K2, an 11 year-old male born at the facility to parents Duchess and Lighting, passed.
In November 2022, two months after the death of K2, The Mirage announced the permanent closure of Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
The facility has one of the worst records for dolphin deaths in the United States. In 2008, a report named “Dying to Entertain You,” by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), identified a 70% mortality rate amongst the hotel’s dolphins. According to Ceta-Base, a total of 16 dolphins have perished at the facility, and with the passing of Duchess, this number now sits at 17.
For many years, Dolphin Project has supported the initiatives of Free the Mojave Dolphins, a local grassroots organization. Now, we strongly urge Hard Rock (the current owners of The Mirage) to relocate their existing dolphins and big cats to proper retirement facilities, where the mammals can rehabilitate and lives out their lives in peace and dignity.
Featured image: Captive dolphin at The Mirage, Las Vegas. Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, user: Pelican