Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Contaminants in the Dolphin Death Pool

We were horrified at what we witnessed inside the dolphin death pools at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas in February: chewing gum and a chicken nugget.

Gum in the Mirage pool, Feb 2015.

Gum in the Mirage pool, Feb 2015.

I was photographing Beetle biting at the gate (like he usually is every time I see him now) when a small child who was talking to the trainer stationed near where the main and center pools meet exclaimed “There’s chewing gum in the pool!”. I looked down.. and he wasn’t kidding. Some tourist had spit their gum right into the pool. I photographed it and moved back. The trainer did not seem to notice. She continued her conversation with the child who did not mention it again.

Chicken nugget in the Mirage pool, Feb 2015.

Chicken nugget in the Mirage pool, Feb 2015.

I moved closer to the bend of the main pool near the snack shop, watching for reactions from the crowd and educators. I should of been looking in the pool. The educators should of been looking in the pool. Another guest walks by and exclaims “Is that a chicken nugget?” My eyes instantly dart down. There it was. A half eaten chicken nugget.

At this point, I could not sit back and silently collect information. I had to alert the educators to the contaminants in the pool.

Situations like these could turn deadly for the dolphins who are trapped in a hotel swimming pool in the Mojave desert.

A 5 year old dolphin named Ying-Ying swallowed steel wool, causing gastric mucosal hemorrhage.

Nami in her cove in Taiji, Japan.

Nami in her cove in Taiji, Japan.

Nami was the name of an orca on display at the Taiji Whale Museum in Japan. Over the course of her life in captivity, she swallowed over 154 pounds of stones. The biggest stone was nearly 7 inches and weighed 4.5 pounds.

Miami Seaquarium had a dolphin named Poncho in the 1980s. He died after eating 2 deflated footballs, 31 coins, 21 stones, 2 screws, 1 training whistle, 1 ten penny nail, 1 metal tag, 1 piece of wire, 1 metal staple and several other unidentifiable objects.

Jim Horton, a marine park employee for 16 years, went on the record to talk about dolphins at Seaworld being poisoned to death from eating coins…

Jim Horton: People were throwing coins in the pools all the time. Idiots. We had one young one year old [dolphin] that turned white. And we thought it was some kind of genetic mutation. The animal died during the day. So we pulled him out and put him on a cart, spraying him with water and rubbing him down so it looked like he was still alive while we were going through park. What we found out was that the white dolphin had a stomach full of coins and rings and jewelry. Everything was perfectly shiny except the pennies. They were the only things that were dissolving.

After 1982, I think, they started making pennies out of zinc and coating them in copper. So it was zinc poisoning. The zinc killed the dolphin. We had another dolphin in there, a young calf, that ate four coffee cans of coins and jewelry. It took six months to get all the coins out of her stomach…..The animal’s stomach was completely full of coins. And sharp, pointy stuff, like name tags or brooches. Baby pacifiers were big. There would be a wad of baby pacifiers and a bunch of paint chips from the pool, and stuff like that blocking the intestine.

Keto having an endoscopy performed on him.

Keto having an endoscopy performed on him.

In 2006, Keto, Skyla and Kohana underwent endoscopies to examine their stomach after eating paint chips from the pool. An endoscopy requires trainers to restrain the animal, insert a bit into their mouth, and wire a camera down into their gastrointestinal tract to look for blockages. See a short video here.

Winnie was a 26 year old orca at Seaworld San Antonio in Texas who died after eating tiles, coins, nuts, bolts and other objects making up a 12 pound blockage.

Mirage does what every marine park does- sells their beverages without bottle tops and other small items so you are unable to throw them into the pool, but they do not restrict you on bringing in your own food and objects. Parents are often guilty of allowing their children to eat in public places and play with toys in an attempt to keep them calm and civil. Children are also careless and do not understand consequences. They can and will throw things into dolphin pools.

A child sits with her legs in the dolphin pool at the Mirage

A child sits with her legs in the dolphin pool at the Mirage

I’m extremely concerned about the low pool walls in Las Vegas. Tourists are often highly intoxicated in this town, and ready to try the first thing that pops into their head. In 2012, students visiting while on break from studying law at UC Berkeley chased one of the exotic birds on display at the Flamingo hotel into the pushes and beheaded it.

Foreign object contamination is a “normal thing” for captive dolphins, and one of the strong arguments one can make against exploiting these creatures in pools.

This time it was a chicken nugget and chewing gum, but tomorrow it could be anything. Please do not visit any captive dolphin facility and persuade your family and friends to do the same. Dolphins are dying to entertain you.


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Breaking Ground on TBS “Ground Floor”

Has the Mojave Dolphins movement finally broken into the mainstream after 25 years?

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Last night TBS aired an episode of their show Ground Floor titled “The Proposal – Part one (S2E09”). The episode stars Skylar Astin and Briga Heelan as Brody and Jenny respectively. It’s Brody’s birthday, and Jenny is trying to find the perfect gift. She is pointed to his old MySpace page which contains a list of things Brody had wanted to accomplish before he turned 30. The group will be in Vegas for a wedding, so Jenny decides to take Brody to the Mirage to swim with the dolphins.

The actual trip to the dolphin habitat is not shown on screen, nor is the facility or hotel mentioned by their name. When you see Jenny and Brody again, their conversation goes something like this:

Jenny: “I thought we were going to have luck swimming with the dolphins, but those dolphins just look too sad!”
Brody: “It’s almost like they don’t love living in the desert!”

Brody speaks the truth that we all have been shouting for over two decades. Dolphins do not belong swimming in concrete pools in the middle of the Mojave desert, hundreds of miles from their natural habitat.

This brilliant episode shows how far the movement for cetacean rights has come, and specifically the issue here in the Mojave desert. The dolphins have been suffering in this hotel for 25 years, and it has only been recently that the hotel has started to take notice to the shift in the public’s awareness on how they are treating these sentient creatures. All we need for this to be a successful breakthrough is one person to decide to not attend the Mirage Hotel and Casino due their treatment of dolphins.

The team here at MojaveDolphins.Com would like to thank the following people for their involvement in this scene and we apologize to anyone we may of missed: Bill Lawrence, Greg Malins, Eric Dean Seaton, David J Booth, Jason Belleville, Skylar Astin and Briga Heelan.

We have every reason to believe that someone on the team of Ground Floor has heard about our cause, and we are very thankful for the shout out on national television. We look forward to gaining the support of many more influential people in the future.

Please take the time to send a thank you note to the people involved in the making of the episode. Let them know how much it meant to you to see a show finally take a step in the right direction. Also, reminder, if you will be in Las Vegas on 2/28, our next protest is from 4:00 to 6:00 pm!

Mini Tweetsheet to Ground Floor cast & crew

Just click on the tweets & they will open up in a new window, already typed up for you. Just hit send!

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