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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

Miami Seaquarium Ordered to Close after Animal Deaths

The Seaquarium is has lost its lease amid concerns about safety and animal welfare

Following a series of high profile animal deaths, the Dolphin Company, owner of the Miami Seaquarium, has been ordered to vacate the premises by 21st April, 2024. Since December, Sundance the dolphin and Sushi the sea lion have both passed away due to inadequate veterinary care, despite warnings from the USDA. Federal inspectors said there were 'high levels of bacteria in the sea lion holding pool,' which was shown not to be in good repair. USDA inspection reports have also catalogued 'animal welfare violations and repeat facility failures impacting the health, safety and welfare of animals in its care.'

According to ABC News, one dolphin was found with a two-inch nail in its throat, and another had multiple rib fractures. Parrots were shown to be self-plucking due to psychological distress, and there was black mould growth inside the penguin enclosure. Lolita the orca, who made headlines as the 'world's loneliest whale', died last year having occupied a 80 x 35ft tank (the smallest of its kind in the USA), totally alone. While Lolita performed for decades before stopping in 2022 due to illness, her companion Hugo died after only 10 years from an aneurysm caused by repeatedly bashing his head against the side of the tank.

Animal activists have been campaigning for the closure of the Seaquarium for years, citing its mistreatment and neglect, and the recent deaths have only served to amplify the message. During a recent news conference, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava declared the conditions as 'unsustainable and unsafe'. The fate of the remaining animals as a result of the closure remains unclear, but it is likely that the Dolphin Company will pay to move them to one of its other facilities.


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