A week after closing, the signs were removed from Dolphinaris Arizona as the marine park undergoes an evaluation following the death of four bottlenose dolphins in less than two years – half of the dolphins held at the dolphinarium, and the park has announced they will no longer hold dolphins if and when they reopen.
A panel of third-party experts is currently reviewing the park and surrounding environment for anything that may have contributed to the dolphins’ deaths. The necropsy (autopsy) of Khloe, a young female dolphin who died in December, found no conclusive cause of death.
“We are thrilled to learn that this horrible ‘dolphins in the desert’ experiment has come to an end,” said Colleen Weiler, WDC’s Jessica Rekos Fellow. However, the news is not all good, as the four remaining dolphins that were held at the marine park have been moved to a new swim-with-the-dolphins facility in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which WDC and others have campaigned against for several years. The sea pen in St. Thomas - not a sea sanctuary as Dolphinaris Arizona mangement has claimed - is located in a bay known for poor water quality and considered unfit for human swimmers 40% of the year. The facility is owned by the Coral World company, which also owns and operates a "swim with sea lions" facility on the island, and plans to offer swim-with-the-dolphins programs to paying guests.
We are extremely disappointed by this news, and ask that Coral World and Dolphin Quest, a Hawaii-based company in charge of two of the four Dolphinaris Arizona dolphins, work with Baltimore's National Aquarium as they move closer to opening their dolphin sanctuary, giving these dolphins a true retirement.
Officials maintain that the closure of Dolphinaris Arizona will be temporary, but the ultimate outcome will depend on what panel finds.