The ‘dolphin death pool’ in Las Vegas has claimed its 14th victim. Bella died at the Mirage Dolphin Habitat in the Mojave Desert on April 14th, 2022 after undergoing treatment for gastroenteritis for several weeks, according to a press release sent out to local news stations.
Bella was born on September 6th, 2008 to Huf-N-Puf and Lightning. She lived 13 years, 7 months and 8 days in captivity while dolphins in the wild live to be 40-60 years old. Bella spent 4,968 days without protection from the sun’s harsh UV rays as she sat at the surface, chewing at the gates between the three pools. She gave birth on August 16th, 2019 to her daughter Lady Aces who is still languishing within the hotel’s backyard 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.