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.
It’s with an extremely heavy heart that I write this blog post.
The Mirage, once nicknamed the “Dolphin Death Pool in the Desert“, has bred another calf into their artificial pod. This is the 3rd calf in 3 years.
She was born on August 16th. The mother is Bella. She is just shy of her 11th birthday. She has spent her entire life under the intense heat of the Mojave sun. The calf is expected to do the same. The father is Razzle, a 30-year-old male who lives at Seaworld San Diego (originally from Marineland Florida).
The calf is already on display in the back pool which the habitat refers to as the “Birthing and Research Pool”. I am being told that interactions with the public and the remaining adults are still being held in the “Birthing and Research Pool”. My source spent a few days inside of the dolphin pool observing and said that the “Paint with a Dolphin” program was still taking place in the pool, along with the “photo ops”
Lightning and Miramar were also removed from the Mirage and sent to live at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City, Florida. This is a bittersweet moment. On one hand, these 2 adult males will no longer be languishing under the sun in the desert. Lightning was originally living at Gulf World. I am told there is shade at this facility. The sad part is I am not sure who is going to be advocating for them from the east coast. Miramar was born in Las Vegas in 2011, so he was taken away from the only family he has ever known. These dolphins are still stuck within the confines of a concrete pool, forced to perform for the ignorant public.
The habitat in Las Vegas still has minimal shade. Structures were added to the “Birthing and Research” pool but they do not cover the entire pool. They are mainly for the interactions that take place along the edges with trainers and the public. The remaining pool surface is subject to the foliage and passing sun.
There are 10 dolphins living in Las Vegas. Duchess, Huf-N-Puf, Maverick, Osbourne, Sofi, Bella, K2, Coco, Karli, and the new little baby. Do not allow the removal of two males to fool you. The last two calves were born via artificial insemination in partnership the Georgia Aquarium and Seaworld San Diego.
Never stop speaking out on their behalf. They need you now more than ever.
During Spring of 2017, I started to receive reports that at least one of the dolphins at the Mirage was pregnant.
On July 17th 2017, local news reported that Huf-N-Puf gave birth to a female dolphin calf at the Mirage. The father was Lightning. This is their third calf together. Her siblings are Bella (born 2008) and Miramar (born 2011). The name was released to the public in September 2017; “Coco”. She is being kept with Huf, Duchess, and Bella in the birthing and research pool. This is the large pool in the rear.
Coco was named after MGM’s employee philosophy which is “One Company, One Culture”. This is the same company that keeps her and the rest of the Mojave pod confined under extreme temperatures with absolutely no escape from the sun. The foliage around the pools provides very little shade, and only during certain times of the day. Las Vegas had nearly 60 days this summer where we reached at least 105f or higher. In the wild, dolphins have the ability to swim deep beneath the surface, protecting their skin from being sunburned. Dolphins at the Mirage spend the majority of their time lagging at the surface, chewing at the gates, and waiting for food.
Coco’s life will be no different than the rest of the animals here in Las Vegas. She will spend her days swimming around the tiny pool with artificial coral awhile tourists point and smile at how “cute and happy” she must be because they can see the rather unfortunate way her anatomy forms her mouth. Overtime she may pick up one or more stereotypical behaviors of captive dolphins; waiting at the gates, biting the gates, or beaching herself.
You can call MGM corporate at 1-(702)-891-1844 directly to tell them you will boycott until they shut down the dolphin exhibit. You can also contact the Mirage Hotel to voice your concerns at 1-(702)-791-7111.
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
Earlier this month, Comedian Joe Rogan spoke out against dolphin captivity at The Mirage to The Las Vegas Review Journal. Rogan, who had a show scheduled at The Mirage Room, a theater that hosts the “Aces of Comedy” comedians decided to switch venues due to his opinions against dolphin captivity.
The Aces of Comedy is an ongoing show at The Mirage showcasing a lineup of comedians performing at “The Mirage Room”, including the biggest names in comedy. Comedians such as Jay Leno, Gabriel Iglesias, Nick Swardson, Ray Romano, Ron White, Daniel Tosh and Tim Allen all have upcoming events at The Mirage.
The Mojave Dolphins Campaign has recently heard from comedian Nick Swardson, who is scheduled to perform October 9th, and has agreed to look into the effects of dolphin captivity and the emotional and physical suffering dolphins endure at The Mirage’s Dolphin Habitat.
We at Free The Mojave Dolphins have had a call to action in place to contact the upcoming comedians urging them to do the same as Joe Rogan and change venues for their shows with letter templates and pre-automated tweets directed at each comedian.
The Mirage was inspected by the USDA in late June after a lack of shade complaint was submitted by Mojave Dolphins. The inspection yielded a citing for sanitation under 3.107 (b) of the Animal Welfare act stating “Food preparation/kitchen: There was a brownish-yellow, raised, foamy substance attached to an area near a pipe at the junction between the wall and the ceiling.” The citation was to be corrected by 7-16-15 but there has been no follow up from the USDA on whether this sanitation violation has been resolved.
The inspection was prepared by USDA, APHIS, and Animal Care Veterinarian Tyler Fields who is a local Las Vegas small animal veterinarian with no known expertise on marine mammals. Please use the attached letter template and send to APHIS representative Robert Gibbens at [email protected] asking them to send a qualified Marine Mammal Veterinarian to follow up on the sanitation violation that should have been corrected.