Surviving Dolphins Relocated from Dolphinaris to Another Theme Park

First, the good news: Following the deaths of four of its eight dolphins in just over two years, Dolphinaris Arizona, the controversial tourist attraction near Scottsdale, says it is permanently closing its dolphin exhibit. More than 168,000 people signed a Care2 petition urging the facility to release its surviving dolphins.

Ever since Dolphinaris Arizona was in the planning stages, animal welfare groups warned that its location in the desert near a busy freeway was no place for dolphins. The stress from being held in captivity and forced to swim with tourists could make the dolphins more susceptible to valley fever, a deadly fungal disease. Sadly, Dolphinaris ignored these concerns, and the theme park opened in October 2016. Since then, four dolphins—Bodie, Alia, Khloe and Kai—had to lose their lives before Dolphinaris Arizona called it quits.

Now for the bad news: While it’s great that Dolphinaris Arizona is allegedly closing, the park has shipped the four surviving dolphins—Liko, Ping, Noelani and Sonny—to yet another inappropriate location. They will now live in captivity at Coral World Ocean Park’s new St. Thomas Sea Sanctuary, a theme park in the Virgin Islands. This facility “has faced heavy opposition and controversy mainly due to its location being vulnerable to extreme weather and frequent contamination with runoff,” according to the animal welfare organization Dolphin Project.

Another concern is that the four dolphins could spread disease in their new home. These dolphins, “who are potentially immunocompromised, will be held in a sea pen enclosure in a bay known for its limited water circulation and poor water quality,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “Based on Clean Water Act monitoring, Water Bay is not fit for human swimmers 40 percent of the year. These four dolphins must live in this polluted water all day, every day.”

Dolphin Free AZ, a group that has long protested Dolphinaris Arizona, stated on its Facebook page that it was “beyond shocking that the dolphins were placed into sea water so quickly without gradually being introduced to pathogens new to them.”

According to a Coral World Ocean Park press release, its new St. Thomas Sea Sanctuary is “the first of its kind that meets Marine Mammal Protection Act and Animal Welfare Act requirements.”

The dolphins will live in a 69,000-square-foot ocean habitat that introduces them “to a natural environment with the added advantage of being cared for by licensed veterinarians and dolphin experts who are dedicated to their health and wellbeing,” stated Lee Kellar, Coral World Ocean Park general curator.

However, what’s not at all natural about this environment is that it’s very likely the four dolphins will eventually have to swim with visitors to the theme park.

Coral World Ocean Park already offers customers who pay $122 the opportunity to swim with sea lions: “pet them, get up close, and pose for some unforgettable pictures,” says its website. For $55, customers can participate in its green sea turtle encounter. “You will wade with the turtle, touch her and enjoy her company,” the website says. “Your experience is sure to make you an ambassador for the protection of these endangered sea turtles worldwide.” (Not to mention it makes Coral World $55 richer.)

Swimming with captive dolphins may be fun for people and a big moneymaker for companies that offer it, but it’s stressful for dolphins. It can lead to behavioral abnormalities, illness, lowered resistance to disease and even death, according to Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting these marine animals.

“This is **not** a genuine sanctuary,” Dolphin Free AZ noted on its Facebook page. “Dolphins continue to be exploited at Coral World. A genuine sanctuary would promote the dignity of any animal.”

The four surviving Dolphinaris Arizona dolphins have suffered enough. They shouldn’t have to spend the rest of their lives at yet another theme park that profits from exploiting captive animals.

Take Action

  • Please sign and share this petition urging Coral World Ocean Park to release the four surviving Dolphinaris Arizona dolphins to a genuine sanctuary.
  • Join over 230,000 people who have signed this petition telling FedEx to refuse to transport dolphins that are held in captivity for human entertainment.
  • Boycott tourist attractions that profit from keeping animals in captivity.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.


Photo credit: webidrole


Georgina Elizab M

When will we learn that we can't always do what we want to. We have to use our brain. Animals are not toys money can't buy everything. Leave Animals in their own habitat in peace Is it asking too much?

federico b

Firmato e condiviso.

Mia B
Mia B19 days ago


Jacqueline GLYDE
Jacqueline GLYDE23 days ago

It's all about the money,the greedy bastards

Beryl Ludwig
Beryl Ludwig24 days ago

It's really sad that people don't understand what a sanctuary is dolphins should be let out to see to live with their families or build a new family.

rita uljee
rita uljee24 days ago

signed ! very wrong when will this misbehaving stop? do the right thing for these poor Dolphins so they can have some life to live after this nightmare!

Maggie D
Maggie D24 days ago

"Human beings" never fail to disappoint with their stupidity, do they? When will facile idiots learn that visiting hell holes like this, sentences these glorious creatures to a dreadful existence? Both petitions signed.

Sheila Miller
Sheila Miller24 days ago

Just release the dolphins. They should not be in captivity where they swim with people. It can pose a danger to the dolphins and to the swimmers.

joan silaco
joan silaco24 days ago

thank you

Patty L
Patty L24 days ago