I did not write this and do not claim to have done so, this is what needs to be repeated until something is finally done. Mirage’s Dolphin Habitat nicknamed Death Pool Posted on January 4, 2011 by delfina
We recently returned from a holiday trip to Las Vegas. During our stay at the Mirage, we became aware of their exhibit called “Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat”. We decided to do a little research on this exhibit and came to learn that it is actually nicknamed the “Dolphin Death Pool”.
Since its opening in 1990, this pool has been the death sentence of over 14 dolphins.
The Born Free foundation and the WSPA have condemned this place for its claims of being a research and educational facility, while in reality it is motivated by profits.
Upon entering the facility, for which you pay $15, you are given a brochure which talks about conservation and gives you wild dolphin facts. However, advertisements on TV and magazines push their “be trainer for a day” programs more.
The dolphins perform tricks (flips, jumps, tailwalking, beaching themselves on the platform) for the paying customers and are given fish to feed as reward. We’d like to point out that these are not natural behaviors for dolphins; it is a trained and taught behavior so that the dolphins could entertain.
Their brochure also states that according to studies conducted by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, dolphins in captivity live longer than their counterparts in the wild. However, they fail to mention their average life span.
This exhibit has been the death sentence for many wild and captive-born dolphins. The Review-Journal obtained records from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration that includes an inventory of the dolphins at The Mirage and cause of death for those that died. Here is the list of the dolphins that died there:
- Rascal – age 4 – Death unknown
- Pablo – age 10 – Died from rare fungus in its lungs
- Darla – age 18 – Died from chronic pancreatitis
- Squirt – age 15 – Died from respiratory ailment
- Picabo – age 18 – Died suddenly from internal tear in its stomach
- Bugsy – age 3 – Died from pulmonary abscess
- No name – Stillborn
- No name – 2 week old calf – died from pulmonary edema
- Sigma – age 32 – Died from heart failure
- Banjo – age 32 – Died from heart failure
- Merlin – age 40 (estimate) – died from pneumonia
- Sage – age 11 – death unknown
- St. Pepper – age 2 – lung infection
In your honest opinion could any of these deaths have been aided by the sadness and broken hearts they experience from being held captive and apart from their mates? What about being made to do tricks on an empty stomach so as to make them perform for food? You honestly think that they are well fed before shows? And the compression they experience in a closet sized tank, when they fly the waves of the largest natural aquarium in the solar system? What about echo locators that feed back into their receivers? And all the human gawkers looking at them through the glass? And eating where you poop, the tanks by comparison to their habitats are toilet bowls? The current live dolphins are: Dutchess, Lighting, Huf n Puf, Maverick and Bella.
The resort claims that it takes excellent care of its animals but the facts seem to prove otherwise. The high mortality rate coupled with diseases and bacteria has organizations worrying about the health of the animals. In the reviewjournal.com article, Dena Jones who is the program manager for WSPA says ”Captive dolphins die regularly at relatively young ages. The causes are often not determined. The people (at The Mirage) may be well-meaning and the facility may be well-run, but these type of captive environments can’t reproduce conditions in the wild.”
During our stay we noticed that the pool is located relatively close to a busy highway. We think the dolphins might be getting their respiratory problems from living next to constant gas fumes from thousands of automobiles!
Also, the dolphins are not protected from the elements. During my stay the weather got very cold with light snow. The dolphins were not protected from the rain, snow, or dropping temperatures. Dolphins breathe air like we do and are subject to the same illnesses as we are.
Moreover, we have found that in 2009 the Mirage had asked the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) to import two dolphins from Bermudas for breeding. It seems logical to think that those dolphins would have been bred to keep the tank stocked with dolphins.
These poor animals are in the middle of the desert, not even close to their natural environment, the ocean. This place is open to attract tourists and make money. If a dolphin dies, they just replace it with another one. This cycle has to stop!
Jacques Cousteau, world famous marine biologist, once said “No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.”
The Mirage used to house their tigers in the lobby of the hotel, but removed them from much criticism from guests and visitors. The tigers are now located in the back along with lions and alpacas.
We think that the Mirage should prepare a plan to relocate the dolphins to a facility that mimics this animals natural environment. If they are truly a research and educational facility they would not need to be located in the Las Vegas strip.
Moreover, we understand that dolphins who are born in captivity will not be able to be released in the ocean. However, we believe that the era of marine mammal captivity for human entertainment is over. We are no longer amused with dolphins performing unnatural behaviors.
If you agree with us please share, tweet, and talk about the issues! Thank you!
Born Free reports of the Mirage dolphins: http://www.bornfreeusa.org/weblog.php?p=2058&more=1
Dolphin Mortality High at Mirage: http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2007/Feb-18-Sun-2007/news/12653710.html
Dolphin Dies from Lung Infection and Complications: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2009/jun/04/mirage-dolphin-dies-lung-infection-complications/
Las Vegas’s Mirage Not Fooling Anyone:http://wspa.typepad.com/compassionateplanet/2009/06/las-vegass-mirage-not-fooling-anyone.html