When one thinks of the deserts of Arizona, what comes to mind? Cacti, tumble weeds, canyons, anything dry and hot really … but certainly not a home for dolphins. Not exactly an aquatic haven for marine animals.

But apparently, not everyone realizes this. This July, Mexico-based firm, Dolphinaris, plans to open a $20 million dolphin park in the Arizona desert, going against the public’s wishes. It will hold eight dolphins in captivity, hoping to serve as a popular tourist attraction.

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This is bad news for both humans and dolphins. Dolphins are extremely intelligent beings who have brains that are quite a bit larger than a human’s, in terms of weight and volume. These animals also have incredible emotional abilities, understand complex problems, and have an advanced method of communication. Despite this, they are forced into life in a tank, with nowhere to escape. This usually leads to unnatural conflict with other cetaceans, and stereotypic behaviors such as swimming in circles repetitively, establishing pecking orders, and lying motionless at the surface or on the aquarium floor. Distressed dolphins have also been known to slam themselves against the sides of tanks, and in moments of absolute desperation, these animals can also choose to consciously stop breathing and end their own lives.

Moreover, in a letter to Dolphinaris, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and other groups highlighted the risk this facility poses to humans. “There are a number of bacteria found in dolphins that can cause illness in humans through inhalation or wound contamination,” the letter stated. It also explained that participants and visitors have suffered broken bones, internal injuries, and serious wounds when interacting with captive dolphins in this capacity.

Knowing this, how can it possibly make sense to move forward with constructing this new facility?!  Not only does this not take into account the lives of the dolphins, but the facility will also use about a million gallons of water. Probably not the prime choice in a location where water sources are scarce. And, to add insult to injury, the park will be constructed on Native American tribal land.

“When we think about the idea of giant concrete pools filled with chlorinated water in the middle of the desert, it doesn’t strike me a wise use of scarce water resources,” said Courtney Vail, campaigns and programs manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, in an email to Take Part. “And it’s as far from a natural environment for the dolphins as you can get.”

SeaWorld’s recent decision to end its captive orca breeding program signals that the public is no longer interested in wrongly keeping marine animals in captivity. We will not stand for another facility to be constructed. Take action now and sign this petition!

Image Source: Creative Commons