Quantcast

Tens of Thousands of People Demand Arizona's 'Swim With The Dolphins' Park Be Stopped

Animals

A plan to open a dolphin attraction in the Arizona desert is being met with intense criticism and backlash. Mexico-based company Dolphinaris is set to open a $20 million “dolphinarium" on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near the suburb of Scottsdale this July.

Dolphins are highly intelligent and socially complex beings. Photo credit: Flickr

The facility allows visitors to swim with and ride the captive marine animals. Parent company Ventura Entertainment already owns five of these facilities across Mexico. The Arizona location will be their first one in the U.S.

An unnamed employee of A.R. Mays, the construction company building the project, told TakePart that the facility will house eight dolphins in a million-gallon tank.

Unsurprisingly, animal rights advocates are speaking out against the project, saying that the highly intelligent, socially complex beings do not belong in tanks in the arid desert. A Care2 petition directed at Ventura CEO Mauricio Martinez del Alva has been signed by more than 110,000 people.

"This is cruel," one commenter wrote. "Dolphins belong in the ocean with other dolphins not in a hot pool in the desert."

Another said, "Have we learned nothing from the mess that is SeaWorld??" referring to the plight of killer whales in captivity exposed by the 2013 SeaWorld documentary Blackfish.

The nonprofit international organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation has also accused Dolphinaris of owning dolphins that were brutally captured in the wild:

Perhaps most troubling is that Dolphinaris owns dolphins that were acquired from tragic wild captures in the Solomon Islands. These brutal captures lead to stronger laws protecting marine mammals in Mexico after a public outcry over 28 of the 200 dolphins captured in 2003 were shipped to Parque Nizuc and several died enroute or shortly thereafter. Dolphinaris currently owns dolphins from the original Parque Nizuc population.

On the Dolphinaris website, the company says that "the well-being and the appropriate attention of the dolphins under our care is our absolute priority. We satisfy every physical and behavior need, including supervision of natural behavior of the species and reproduction programs."

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is working with the new facility. Agency spokesman R. Andre Bell told The Arizona Republic that once construction is complete, the company will apply for an Animal Welfare Act exhibitor's license. The agency will also make unannounced inspections at the facility to ensure that the creatures are receiving proper care, housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition and veterinary care. Violations will result in cease-and-desist orders, fines or license suspensions.

Scottsdale resident Laurice Dee, who started the Care2 petition, argued that no matter how well the dolphins are looked after, she is still against captivity.

"Pro-captivity activists may argue that captive dolphins are being well cared for in their respective facilities and that they do not have to deal with pollution and a number of other problems in the open waters," she explained to The Phoenix New Times.

"Well, regardless of how well captive dolphins are being cared for, living in tiny man-made tanks does not replicate the natural environment where everything—including and especially the ecosystem—works in harmony," she said.

Sharon Young, a marine issues field coordinator at the Humane Society, told The Guardian that swimming-with-dolphins attractions can be dangerous for dolphins and people alike.

“These animals are used to an environment where they can roam, swimming hundreds of miles a day in a rich environment," she said. “Once you put them in a tank, it's an impoverished existence. It would be like if someone never let you out of your bedroom. There has been some sexual aggression towards swimmers. It's not a good environment for anyone."

An "Empty the Tanks" demonstration has been initiated against the Arizona dolphinarium. Organizers of the peaceful protest, which will take place in Scottsdale on May 7, said that "such abuse and exploitation of these sentient beings has no place in the 21st century, and certainly not in the desert of Arizona."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Trans Mountain Tar Sands Pipeline 'Final Harpoon' for Endangered Killer Whales

10 Fun Facts About Penguins

Massive Coral Reef Discovered at Mouth of Amazon, But It's Already Threatened by Oil Drilling

Shocking Migratory Changes Bring Electric Rays to Canada's Pacific

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less