SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The fourth dolphin death in two years at a Phoenix-area aquatic facility has prompted a company to terminate its contract to loan animals to the facility.
Dolphin Quest also said Saturday its team was heartbroken by Thursday's death of Kai, a 22-year-old dolphin on loan to Dolphinaris Arizona, but that two other Dolphin Quest dolphins there are well.
Dolphin Quest is evaluating its next steps for its two dolphins.
The cause of Kai's death is unknown and results are pending tests, according to Dolphin Quest.
“The safety and health of our animals is our top priority”, says Dr. Rae Stone, Co-founder of Dolphin Quest, in an emailed statement to 12 News. “In spite of their best efforts, the animal health concerns have not been resolved at Dolphinaris. We have a senior marine mammal specialist from Dolphin Quest onsite at Dolphinaris who knows our remaining dolphins well and is closely monitoring them. They are bright, alert and in good condition at this time. We have contacted USDA and are working with them as we move forward.”
Dolphinaris officials didn't immediately respond Saturday to requests for comment but said Friday that it hired an external pathologist to determine the cause of death and that it occurred after his condition began deteriorating and he had difficulty swimming, eating and breathing.
Dolphinaris has additional sites in Mexico. Dolphin Quest operates its own locations in Hawaii and Bermuda.
Over 100 protesters on Saturday demonstrated outside Dolphinaris Arizona, calling for its closure.