SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – Staff at Dolphinaris Arizona are receiving death threats after a fourth dolphin died at the facility in less than two years.
“They’ve come through different channels,” spokeswoman Jen Smith said. “Phone calls, emails, social media, our chat feature through our web site. It’s deeply concerning.”
Smith says they’ve gotten law enforcement involved and have boosted security on site.
The flurry of threats come after 22-year-old dolphin Kai was euthanized Thursday morning. Dolphinaris Arizona’s general manager said Kai had been sick for two weeks. When his condition did not improve, the decision was made to “humanely euthanize” him.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which regulates the attraction, says they’re aware of the dolphin’s death, and are still working on next steps.
But activists say there’s only one thing to do — shut Dolphinaris down.
“The problem is that dolphins don’t belong in the desert, let alone a concrete pool by the busy 101 Freeway where it cuts off all their communication skills,” said Jeanette McCourt, an activist with the group Dolphin Free AZ.
Meanwhile, Arizone State University marine researcher Charles Rolsky acknowledges that Dolphinaris has a tough task keeping the animals alive in the desert.
“It’s definitely a difficult acclimation process,” Rolsky said. “I’m sure their intent is to educate the public, and maybe by having public interact with dolphins so closely it would make them maybe invest more in them as a species.”
Meanwhile, Smith says staff at the facility and the protesters probably share many of the same views.
“We really admire the protesters and respect the passion and love they have for animals,” Smith said. “And our team at Dolphinaris loves animals, too.”