Feb 12, 2024 - News

Problems grow at Miami Seaquarium

Dolphins jumping in front of trainers at the Miami Seaquarium.

Animals perform at a show at the Miami Seaquarium. Photo: Getty Images

The Miami Seaquarium, which has been embroiled in controversy over its treatment of animals, is at risk of losing its longtime home amid mounting evidence of mismanagement.

  • An inspection report released last week cited rusty bird cases, mold in the penguin house, a dolphin swallowing a nail and flamingos wading in dirty water, among other issues, according to the Miami Herald.
  • The Seaquarium also lost its accreditation from American Humane's animal welfare certification program, leaving it in violation of its lease with Miami-Dade County.

Why it matters: The loss of the accreditation leaves the Seaquarium with just one remaining certification, from the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA), despite the county requiring at least two, the newspaper reported.

  • Last month, following a series of federal inspectors' negative reports about the care of animals, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she would terminate the Seaquarium's lease.

Yes, but: The Dolphin Company, the Mexican-based owner of the Seaquarium, said Thursday the for-profit attraction would "continue to operate under the lease agreement" and "remain open to the public."

  • In response, Cava said county lawyers would meet with Seaquarium's lawyers to "discuss possible next steps," the Herald reported.

The bigger picture: The problems cited in the new report are the latest in a series of complaints and citations lobbed at the Seaquarium, which has operated in Virginia Key marine park for nearly seven decades.

  • In a January inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a citation for "lack of appropriate veterinary care for 25 animals," according to the Herald.
  • In August, the killer whale Lolita died of kidney failure and old age.
  • In December, a pair of manatees named Romeo and Juliet were relocated from the Seaquarium to ZooTampa after activists recorded a video of Romeo in a cramped tank.

The bottom line: The Seaquarium's mounting problems leave its future in doubt.

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