SCOTTSDALE, Ariz - Animal rights activists are outraged over why dolphins would be brought to the desert, and how they would be treated. Plans released in January 2016 show a plan for building one-million-gallon-sized tanks for eight, adult dolphins.
The animals are set to be part of a "swim with the dolphins experience" called Dolphinaris. Activists report that over 85,000 people have signed an online petition asking for construction to stop.
"Public attitudes are changing. And that's why this issue really deserves either a public referendum or a hearing," Courtney Vail, from the organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation said. "Something needs to happen to allow the public to share its opinions about this project."
"It's a multimillion-dollar development going into our backyards here in Arizona, and we've have had no opportunity to input into that process," she added.
The founder of the Odysea Aquarium, Amram Knishinsky, said the dolphin exhibit is "not a part of the aquarium." A company out of Mexico is the operator running the facility near the aquarium.
Animal rights groups are planning a formal protest next month to coincide with a global "Empty the Tanks" demonstration.
Copyright 2016 KPNX