Dolphinaris, Arizona has a problem. Within the span of 15 months, three dolphins have died, yet the facility denies any wrongdoing.
The aquarium, which opened in October 2016, featured eight captive dolphins. Eleven months later, on September 23, 2017, a 7-year-old bottlenose dolphin named Bodie would die from a rare muscle disease.* Eight months after Bodie’s passing, on May 22, 2018, a 10-year-old bottlenose dolphin named Alia would perish of an acute bacterial infection. On December 30, 2018, another bottlenose dolphin, 10-year-old Khloe would die of a chronic illness caused by the Sarcocystis parasite.**
*Inside sources rumored that Bodie exhibited symptoms of “valley fever,” a fungal infection related to dust or soil-borne fungus prior to his passing
**Source: AZ Central, 1/2/19
“The dolphin show only serves to perpetuate our utilitarian perception of nature. It’s a form of bad education.” ~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project
Khloe was born in captivity on April 18, 2008 at SeaWorld Orlando. She would be transferred to Discovery Cove Orlando, then to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and finally to Dolphinaris Arizona where she would reside until her passing.*
*Source: Ceta Base
According to officials, Khloe had been medically managed for six years but eventually succumbed to progressive neurologic and muscular deterioration. A necropsy (autopsy) is still pending.
Despite Dolphinaris, Arizona’s disturbing track record, along with growing protests against the facility, officials have stated release of their remaining dolphins is not being considered. While the issue of captivity is one of quality, not quantity, all three dolphins that died were young, with much life left to live.
The greatest cost of dolphin captivity isn’t the price of the ticket. It’s what the mammals paid to end up in a concrete tank.
What’s Wrong with Dolphins in the Desert?
- Even though these dolphins were born in captivity, they have been sold, shipped, and treated as objects their entire lives.
- Dolphins are socially complex creatures who live in family units. They speak different dialogues, and different families often cannot communicate with each other. The Arizona dolphins come from different families.
- Forcing dolphins to interact with human guests places extraordinary stress on captive dolphins. Many are on antidepressants, ulcer medication, and exhibit stress behaviors such as chewing on their tank walls or gates or attacking one another.
- Many captive dolphins die prematurely due to illness or stress-related disorders.
- Others develop sunburns because they cannot dive below the surface in their tanks, or have persistent open wounds and abrasions as a result of the encounters.
- All the behaviors the dolphins perform are unnatural; they are trained into submission through food deprivation techniques, kept hungry so they will perform on demand for the paying public.
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Featured image: Bottlenose dolphin, Dolphinaris Arizona