Miami Seaquarium Ordered To Close After 120 Animal Deaths

The hugely controversial Miami Seaquarium has seen a number of high profile animal deaths over the years


3 Minutes Read

Lolita the orca at Miami Seaquarium, which has now been ordered to close Miami Seaquarium is set to close its doors in April - Media Credit: Ganeshkumar Durai / Alamy Stock Photo

Miami Seaquarium, the Florida marine park famous for its captive dolphins and whales, has been ordered to close. 

On Thursday of this week, the Miami-Dade commission served eviction papers to The Dolphin Company (the park’s owner). The papers state that Miami Seaquarium must close by April 21. 

A letter sent to the company said that it had failed to “maintain animals in accordance with applicable law.” It was also accused of “violations of lessee’s contractual obligations to keep the property in a good state of repair.”

Established in 1955, Miami Seaquarium is one of the oldest marine parks in the US. It makes its money from captive animals, many of whom are forced to perform unnatural tricks for crowds of paying customers. 

Miami Seaquarium controversy

An orca performing a trick at Miami Seaquarium
Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo Miami Seaquarium makes money by forcing animals to perform tricks

The news of closure comes after years of campaigning from animal rights groups. At least 120 whales and dolphins have died at Miami Seaquarium, and public opinion has been rapidly turning against the park in recent years. 

In November last year, a 30-year-old dolphin named Sundance died soon after a USDA inspection had noted they were suffering from “gastric stress.” Just weeks earlier, a dolphin had been found with a two inch nail in their throat. 

The death of Lolita

Miami Seaquarium’s most famous animal, an orca named Tokitae (also known as Lolita), died of a suspected renal condition in August last year. She had been captured from the ocean in 1970, and was sold to the park for $6,000. She spent 52 years in a small pool. A year before her death, she had been retired from performing, and activists had been working to secure her relocation to a sea pen

The park’s closure has been widely celebrated by animal groups. “The world watched as the Miami Seaquarium let the lone orca Lolita waste away and die, allowed animals to eat trash in crumbling enclosures, and ignored its attending veterinarian’s instructions until she finally resigned,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman told Plant Based News. “But now the world can cheer at the news that help is finally on the way for the long-suffering animals held captive there.

Reiman described the park’s closure as “long overdue,” and urged Miami-Dad County authorities to ensure that the animals are sent to “reputable facilities” to get care.

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