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.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is going to be the first dolphinarium in North America to build their dolphins a seaside sanctuary.
The team behind this project is still scouting for the perfect location, and needs to consider:
The environmental appropriateness of a site (natural stimuli, exemplary water quality, a fitting climate, etc.)
Community interest in the sanctuary
Potential for high levels of environmental protection and ability to achieve proper permitting
Workforce-related considerations (housing, livability, family, and healthcare, etc.)
When you engage in a conversation about anti-captivity with an individual who isn’t familiar with the subject matter, their response is usually somewhere along the lines of “How will the dolphins survive in an ocean? You can’t just drop them and forget about them.”
Even though the new sanctuary will not be ready for a few more years, the National Aquarium is already working diligently with their dolphins, preparing them to be transitioned to living in the ocean.
Each dolphin is being treated as an individual, and a customized plan is in place for each of the seven dolphins. The National Aquarium is also beginning to teach the dolphins how to use a stretcher and to relax in shallow waters with trainers surrounding them so they will be less stressed during transport. Algae has been introduced into the tanks to provide a more natural setting, and to help the dolphins learn to adapt to their new environmentally-rich home. New toys will be introduced to their regimen to allow for problem-solving skills to develop.
Dolphin captivity has been a failed experiment that has gone on far too long. Cetaceans do not thrive in captive swimming pools. This is the very thing that activists are begging other facilities to do.
We urge The Mirage to be industry leaders in this new ground-breaking research on cetaceans and follow the National Aquarium by sending the 10 Mojave Dolphins to a seaside sanctuary.
The Las Vegas activist pod will be coming together once again this holiday season to convince tourists that there is nothing cheery about visiting the Mirage Hotel and Casino as long as animals are used as an entertainment attraction. We will be meeting for our 3rd Annual “Thanks but No Tanks!” protest that happens the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Tourism is slow for our city during Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but Las Vegas is a popular destination for those who are seeking to travel away for the holidays due to cheap hotel rooms. According to the LA Times, it is especially common for Asian tourists from Southern California.
Our goals for this protest are to engage with the tourists and passersby in conversation about the horrors behind the captive dolphin industry and convince them to not purchase a ticket to any facility that holds dolphins. We will be displaying posters to motorists and pedestrians, and handing out educational brochures regarding the local #MojaveDolphins campaign.
We are speaking out on behalf of the 13 dolphins that have been documented to have died prematurely within the Mirage Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. We are the voices of Beetle, Sgt Pepper, Sage, Squirt, Rascal, Picabo, Banjo, Sigma, Darla, Bugsy, Merlin, and the calves of both Darla and Sigma. We will continue splashing for Duchess, Lightning, Huf-N-Puf, Maverick, Osbourne, Sophie, Bella, K2, Miramar, and Coco. We will never be silent.
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