Last week a two-year-old dolphin died from a lung infection at The Mirage Hotel and Casino dolphin habitat. It is the second dolphin death within a year for the Las Vegas resort.
Months leading up to this most recent death, The Mirage applied for a license to import two captive bottlenose dolphins from Bermuda for display. The hotel will use the dolphins for breeding purposes “to broaden the genetics of the managed dolphin population in the United States.” To put it lightly, The Mirage has a particularly lousy record of keeping its dolphins alive. Fourteen dolphins have died at the facility since it opened in 1990 (five of those being stillborn or dying shortly after birth).
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Born Free USA are working to stop the importation of these animals by filing a complaint with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Although hotel representatives claim that the dolphins will serve to educate the public, the facility lacks the conservation and educational programs required for the importation of dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Read the full June 10 Las Vegas Sun article: Animal rights groups try to halt Mirage from importing dolphins.
For decades marine attractions around the world have marketed themselves as invaluable enterprises that contribute significantly to the research, conservation and public appreciation of marine species. A recently updated report, The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity co-produced by WSPA and the Humane Society of the United States, uses the latest research to debunk these claims. For example, the primary justification for the public display of marine mammals is the educational benefit of these exhibits. However, no objective, detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of educational programs offered by marine theme parks and aquaria has ever been published.
The latest dolphin death at the Mirage makes it clear that casinos should no longer be allowed to gamble with animal’s lives.