A report from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), produced in July 2022 but released recently, raises concerns about the care Miami Seaquarium gave to its dolphins. Inspectors found that they were underfed and underweight — one dolphin lost 100 pounds in four months. The report states that nine of the 12 dolphins did not have diets approved by veterinarians. It also says that the dolphins are turning violent as a result of how they are kept captive in the 38-acre oceanarium on the island of Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay.
The animal rights organisation PETA stated that “to force the dolphins to perform, the facility reduced their food intake by 60%. Imagine having to stretch your breakfast to last you all day. The staff member in charge of the food refused to increase the dolphins’ intake unless there was another plan to force compliance — which is to say, the staff was intentionally starving the dolphins into submission. As a result of their meager portions, the dolphins are emaciated, regurgitating excessively, and attacking humans out of stress.”
Miami Seaquarium is now under new management after being acquired by The Dolphin Company in March, and new General Manager Patrick Pearson said to CBS News, “When we acquired the Miami Seaquarium, our staff found many of the dolphins overweight…We didn’t find that the aggression was coming from food…There are a lot of factors. A lot of it is playful (and) they are not doing it to harm anybody… They [USDA] examined a period of time when we were still transitioning. I think if they came here now they would be happy with what they’d see.”
Lolita, the captive orca in the smallest orca tank in the world, continues to be kept captive at the Miami Seaquarium, even though her performances have stopped. No cetaceans should ever be kept in captivity, and efforts to return them to the wild or suitable genuine marine sanctuaries should never stop until no dolphin or orca is kept in a tank for public display.