Seaworld’s “Beetle” Dolphin Dies in Casino Swimming Pool

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Seaworld’s “Beetle” Dolphin Dies in Casino Swimming Pool

In a press statement from MGM, a 12-year old bottlenose dolphin named Beetle died on Oct. 27 of unknown causes. Beetle was the 13th dolphin to die at The Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage in Las Vegas. Historically, this facility has had 22 dolphins — now with a 59 percent mortality rate and an average age of death of 10-years old. Wild dolphins can live to be 50 years or more, concluding that this facility, even with up-to-date filtration systems and temperature-controlled water, restaurant-quality frozen dead fish and a full-time vet, the dolphins in Las Vegas are dying 30 years younger in their captive environment in the desert.

Beetle came to The Mirage in 2010 from SeaWorld Orlando on a long-term breeding loan. Though he never fathered any offspring, The Habitat emphasized in September they would begin breeding all the sexually-mature males. Beetle made news in Orlando for biting a child.

Beetle has been documented on multiple occasions by Free The Mojave Dolphins and Martyn Stewart logging motionless at the gates, chewing on the gates and piping and being aggressive toward other male dolphins.

Because of this behavior, the facility put a plastic kayak in front of the gate to deter Beetle from chewing. The kayak has been chewed as well.

Photo by Terran Baylor

Photo by Terran Baylor

Beetle was also used as one of the main dolphins in the “Paint with a Dolphin Program” where patrons pay to have a dolphin paint on a piece of canvas.

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Beetle was mainly kept in one of the three pools at the Mirage with minimal shade to find refuge in under the sun. Though there is a shade regulation under the Animal Welfare Act ( § 3.127 Facilities, outdoor.(a) Shelter from sunlight. When sunlight is likely to cause overheating or discomfort of the animals, sufficient shade by natural or artificial means shall be provided to allow all animals kept outdoors to protect themselves from direct sunlight.), there have been multiple APHIS inspections, pressure from the community for constructing a structure, and even a verbal commitment from MGM to begin building in Spring 2015. No such structure was ever built.

We would like to make sure Beetle is not replaced by another dolphin. We would like for all breeding to end at The Mirage and to ban any additional importing of dolphins. Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is currently working on a dolphin sanctuary in Mexico where these dolphins have an open invitation to retire too.

You can call MGM corporate at 1-(702)-891-1844 directly to tell them you will boycott them until they shut down the dolphin exhibit. You can also contact the Dolphin Habitat to voice your concerns at 1-(702)-791-7111, 1-(702)-791-7588, 1-(702)-792-7889

Please also sign the petitions.

RIP Beetle. You are free to roam the skies now and no gate will ever keep you from freedom again.


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Beetle Tweetsheets

#AskSeaworld Campaign

#AskSeaworld @SeaWorld If you care about your animals, why did you dump your “problem” dolphin out in the desert? pic.twitter.com/sQ7gvDGChY

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#AskSeaworld @SeaWorld if you provide the best care, why are your animals in the desert w/o shade? #MojaveDolphins pic.twitter.com/NBbTbbaS66

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#AskSeaworld Hey @SeaWorld, how do you feel about Beetle dying @TheMirageLV at the young age of 12? #MojaveDolphins pic.twitter.com/9ahmgDyh2P

(click here to send tweet)

Seaworld3

#AskSeaworld @SeaWorld why did you send dolphins from each of your parks to pools in the desert without shade? pic.twitter.com/diOjuWT0kq

(click here to send tweet)

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Mirage School Fieldtrips

One steady source of publicity for the Mirage dolphin habitat is the influx of field trips throughout the school year, from the Clark County public school system, Christian schools, home schools, and more. Dolphinariums around the world use the education system as a way to mask the true business model; dolphin entertainment for profit.

The Mirage dolphin habitat is located in the “backyard” of the casino property. Steve Wynn built a special entrance to shuffle the school children in without exposing them to the gambling and debauchery on the inside of his gaming floor. The public is not allowed onto the grounds until after the children have left. Once contained inside the facility, the children instantly become mesmerized by seeing a dolphin, many of them for the first time. They linger on the trainers every word, without realizing they are not being told the full truth.

One anecdote the so-called educators at the Mirage love to repeat is “the dolphins do not perform tricks, these are natural behaviors”. They convince the children that the dolphins are not performing tricks because they are not pulling a rabbit out of their blowhole. Sound ridiculous? I couldn’t invent these stories if I tried.

POXschoolJust last month, the staff of the facility was caught on tape saying, “It’s our responsibility to make sure they’re as healthy as possible. That’s our main concern. You can’t do anything. You can’t do research, you can’t do interactions, you can’t do shows, you can’t do all those other things unless you have healthy animals and that’s a big thing for us“. The above video of the school trip shows otherwise. These dolphins are told to perform for school children while visibly suffering from a stress-induced illness known as dolphin pox. The Mirage dolphins have been displaying this illness for more than four years, after contracting it during a breeding swap with SeaWorld Orlando in March 2010.

MirageKidsChildren of all ages, from all reaches of the globe, are speaking out against dolphin captivity. Phoebe Goldstein of Colorado convinced her school to cancel a trip to Seaworld San Diego. Dedicated dolphin activist Zach Affolter of San Diego petitioned his school board to remove school-related activities from occurring on SeaWorld grounds. He has continued momentum by supporting students within the San Diego Unified School District in their bid to change the way field trips and classroom studies involving live animals are handled. View his speech with the school board by clicking here. The resolution (which you can view here) was passed unanimously.  UC Irvine student government stopped selling passes to SeaWorld along with California State University-Long Beach. Children from Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu were successful in cancelling an annual trip to SeaWorld. Young children in Brussels took their love for dolphins all the way to the European Parliament. 5 year old Cash was so taken back after seeing a glimpse of Blackfish that for his birthday, he called for a protest of SeaWorld, that inspired demonstrations at all 3 American parks. Williams Elementary School in North Las Vegas created a video and a song to raise awareness about Orca Morgan trapped in Spain. Dolphin Project Youth Ambassador Harry Morgan recently penned this letter to Ellen Degeneres asking her to stop promoting the Mirage dolphin habitat.

MirageKids3Children are fascinated by dolphins, but do not need to see them in a swimming pool to appreciate the beauty they bring to this world. One young fan of dolphins recently stood up against her classmates here in Las Vegas after learning that her school would be taking a trip to the Mirage facility. She had seen “The Cove” with her parents and came to the decision that dolphins do not belong in captivity, especially in the middle of the desert she calls home. She will sit behind while her classmates are out in the Mojave sun, hopefully wondering why the dolphins have spots, or why it is so hot and the dolphins don’t have any protection from the burning sensation they are feeling on their skin. Once exposed to all of the facts behind the way dolphins are captured, trained,and exploited, children will open their hearts to the dolphins and call for their systemic abuse to end.

We are asking for the Clark County School District to review the information contained within our website, and to re-evaluate the decision to send children to the heart of the strip to learn about dolphins. If you are the parent of a school aged child in Nevada, please think twice about the message this facility is sending to your children.

Please sign the petition: Clark County School District: Stop Sending Children To The Mirage


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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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Dolphin Pox Virus Disappearing After 4+ Years

Maverick, December 2012

Maverick, December 2012

The outbreak of the dolphin pox virus at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas that began more than four years ago may be finally coming to a close.

The disease is said to have gotten its start when Cosmo, the male dolphin born at SeaWorld Orlando, was transferred to the Mirage on March 28th 2010. He stayed at the habitat in the desert until December 6th 2013, when he was shipped to San Diego, and eventually to one of the many dolphin prisons in Florida.

Maverick, August 2014

Maverick, August 2014

When a Mirage trainer was questioned about Maverick’s condition earlier this month, she responded saying that once Cosmo arrived in San Diego with warmer waters, his virus began to clear up so they applied the same techniques here (Which would mean that the poxvirus should be gone at Seaworld San Diego and Seaworld Orlando…)She also said the Mirage habitat water is currently reading at about 78F.

Funny that such a simple solution took more than four years for the vet staff in charge of the dolphins at Mirage (and even longer for the dolphins at Seaworld) to come up with and apply. With our limited resources here at MojaveDolphins.Com, we were able to come to the conclusion that water temperature and salinity were the major factors that needed to be looked into.

Maverick, January 2015

Maverick, January 2015

The Mirage dolphin habitat was inspected by the government not one, not two, but FIVE times last year. Why is it that the government saw nothing wrong with visually ill dolphins swimming around in tanks with chipped paint and no protection from the harsh environment that is the Mojave desert?

The waves are finally starting to roll in the last two years. We have seen an explosion of people joining the fight for cetacean rights. Movies like “The Cove” and “Blackfish” are causing people to see that these sentient mammals deserve our respect.

Maverick, and all other dolphins in captivity around the globe, may look happier to the naked eye because they are not covered in lesions, but remember to tell your family and friends that this is not the case. The dolphins at the Mirage do not deserve to live the remainder of their life in a concrete swimming pool in the middle of the desert.

 


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Dolphin Pox Running Rampant

At the beginning of this week, an anonymous follower of our cause was able to get into Seaworld Orlando and photograph and ID several dolphins which are infected with pox. The whistleblower is quoted saying

I just got back from the park, got you a few pictures of some of the dolphins with pox. A lot of them at Cove have it, some really bad. Out of all of the ones I laid eyes on for sure, there were only a handful that I didn’t see any marks on. Can they contract that disease from each other? I saw a small spot on the juvenile female Haley. She is constantly pursued by an older male, Lagos, who is one that has the pox pretty bad. So I was just wondering how it spreads, if it’s contagious, etc.

I did not see any in Nursery that had it. But two, possibly three in the stadium (Baretta, Clyde, Marble) have it. I was not able to get great pictures of them but I got one that at least shows it on Baretta.

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