After three dolphins died this year at the dolphin and wildlife attraction at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada (US), the attraction has temporarily closed to the public. According to the casino, on 24th September 2022, the 11-year-old bottlenose dolphin named K2 died of a respiratory illness. The 19-year-old dolphin named Maverick died earlier in September after receiving medical care for a lung infection, and the 13-year-old dolphin Bella died of gastroenteritis in April.
Franz Kallao, Mirage’s interim president, said, “We are temporarily closing the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat to focus our efforts on ensuring that we have the safest possible environment and the best care possible for our dolphins and to give our team the time they need to process and grieve.” With 16 dolphins dying at the casino since its opening in 1990, the company has been criticised for their careless exploitation of animals. Cameron Harsh, programs director at the US office of World Animal Protection, said to the Washington Examiner, “This is the third dolphin to die at this venue [this year], and they are all under the age of 20. Dolphins live 30 to 50 years in the wild. That is really indicative of the short life spans of these animals when they are in captive environments.” Although all animals suffer in zoos and aquaria, cetaceans such as dolphins and whales have shown many more obvious signs of difficulties coping with the captive environment, including premature death and even possible self-harming. This has led to more public pressure to close dolphinariums and marine parks. Some have decided to close, as is the case of the dolphinarium at Kolmården Zoo in Sweden, while some jurisdictions voted to phase them out, as in the case of Canada. But this is not enough. All zoos, aquaria, and public places that exhibit animals in captivity for profit or entertainment should be phased out, as there is no conservation, education, or research excuse that can justify the suffering they cause.