Breaking! Remaining Dolphins At Dolphinaris Arizona Sent To Sea Pen With Deplorable Water Quality Issues In St. Thomas

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The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has confirmed from contacts on the ground that the last four remaining bottlenose dolphins at Dolphinaris Arizona were transferred out of the facility late last night.

As per the organization, sadly, the dolphins are believed to have been flown to St. Thomas to take up temporary, or possibly permanent, residence in the newly constructed dolphin sea pen at Coral World Ocean Park in Water Bay, St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

“We are still not certain what caused the deaths of four dolphins at Dolphinaris within an 18-month period,” Dr. Naomi Rose, AWI’s marine mammal scientist, said in a statement. “Now, the remaining captive-born dolphins, who are potentially immunocompromised, will be held in a sea pen enclosure in a bay known for its limited water circulation and poor water quality. Based on Clean Water Act monitoring, Water Bay is not fit for human swimmers 40 percent of the year. These two dolphins must live in this polluted water all day, every day.”

This is Unacceptable!

On February 5th, Dolphinaris announced that it would temporarily close while an “outside” panel of veterinarians, pathologists, water quality experts, and animal behavior specialists evaluate the dolphinarium following the death of a fourth dolphin in less than two years. Recently, two other bottlenose dolphins, Liko and Noelani, were returned to their facility of origin, Dolphin Quest in Hawaii, which holds 12 dolphins in captivity on the Big Island in Kona.

Dolphinaris has not yet declared that its closure is permanent, leaving open the possibility that Sonny and Ping’s stay at Coral World will only be temporary. If their stay is extended, however, AWI is seriously concerned for the welfare and even survival of these animals given Water Bay’s history of water quality issues.

“The public display industry often says that dolphins born in concrete tanks cannot handle the contaminants and pathogens they would encounter in the ocean if they were ‘set free,’” continued Dr. Rose. “However, even placing them in a sea pen raises similar concerns using this logic. The hypocrisy on the part of the captive display industry here is noteworthy: It’s okay to send tank-born dolphins to a sea pen when it’s convenient for management, but not when it’s in the dolphins’ best interest.”

“AWI believes all dolphins can be retired to seaside sanctuaries, but such a sanctuary would never be located in a polluted bay,” Rose continued. “This enclosure was sited for the convenience of Coral World, which is on the adjacent shore, not for the welfare of the dolphins who will be kept there.”

Coral World has stated that it plans to house up to 10 dolphins on a regular basis, including six the first year, but as many as 18 once breeding begins. It is unclear where the facility will procure the remaining dolphins.

#EmptyTheTanks

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