Dolphinaris Arizona closing for evaluation after 4th dolphin dies
PHOENIX — Dolphinaris Arizona announced Tuesday that it will be temporarily closing while a panel of experts evaluates the facility following the death of four dolphins since it opened in 2016.
According to a press release, the voluntary closure will start on Friday and currently has no planned end date.
A panel including veterinarians, pathologists, water quality experts and animal behavior specialists will examine the facility.
The Scottsdale attraction announced the death of 22-year-old dolphin Kai on Thursday.
Kai’s death was preceded by 11-year-old Khloe’s death in December from a chronic illness due to a parasite called Sarcocystis that she had for six years.
In May 2018, a 10-year-old dolphin at Dolphinaris died from a bacterial infection, and in September 2017, a 7-year-old dolphin died at the facility from a muscle disease.
Dolphin Quest, the company who loaned out the animal, terminated its contract with Dolphinaris Arizona the day after Kai’s death.
According to the release, two of the facility’s four remaining dolphins are being returned to Dolphin Quest while the other two will be moved to another licensed facility.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of our dolphin friends and are grateful to the efforts of our staff and partners during these difficult times — especially our trainers, who have given so much love, time and energy to caring for our dolphins and educating our guests,” general manager Christian Schaeffer de Leon said in the release.
“We hope to find a long term solution for the welfare of our dolphins.”
When Dolphinaris announced it would open on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community tribal land near the Loop 101 and Via de Ventura, more than 100,000 protesters signed an online petition opposing it.
One of the facility’s biggest attractions is that guests can swim with its dolphins, but opponents were concerned that the interactions could sicken the animals and people.