In the past six months, three dolphins have died in a Las Vegas casino, The Mirage’s animal exhibit, which has now been temporarily closed.

Source: UNILAD Adventure/YouTube

K2, a bottlenose dolphin was born at The Mirage casino on the Las Vegas strip and spent his entire life in captivity at the casino. The dolphin was eleven years old, and visitors paid as much as $450 to interact with him in the water along with other captive dolphins. Unfortunately, earlier this month, the dolphin began showing symptoms of illness. He did not eat, and his bloodwork showed that his liver enzymes were high. Internal imaging led the team to believe that he had a respiratory illness and they gave him antifungals, antibiotics, and nebulizer breathing treatments, National Geographic reported.

Despite their best efforts, K2 died on September 24. He became the third dolphin that died at The mirage in the last six months. Another dolphin named Maverick died earlier in September following treatment for a lung infection. Dolphin Bella died in April after being treated for gastroenteritis. The dolphins that died were only between eleven and nineteen years old. Bottlenose dolphins have an average life expectancy of 20 to 30 years, with a maximum life span of 65.

Source: 8 News NOW Las Vegas/YouTube

The animal exhibit at the casino is now closed so independent experts can conduct investigations into the deaths. However, ticket sales have only been paused until October 9th. It’s clear that there is something wrong here and that these dolphins are not meant to be in captivity. These prisoners for profit are being used to make money, and their health is suffering as a consequence but these companies don’t seem to care as long as they keep profiting off of them.

The exhibit still has seven bottlenose dolphins, four leopards, two lions, eight tigers, one two-toed sloth, one umbrella cockatoo, and approximately 350 aquarium fish.

The Mirage has a long history of deaths of their animals. K2 was the 16th dolphin to die at the facility in its 31 years in operation, according to Cetabase. Animal welfare advocates are calling for the dolphins and animals to be sent to sanctuaries.

Source: Free the Mojave Dolphins/YouTube

Sadly, these animals are often taken from the wild and kept in captivity for entertainment, and they suffer immensely. In the wild, these highly social creatures stay close to and travel with their pods. In captivity, they are forced into man-made “pods.” This leads to aggression amongst tank members. This only adds to the depression and physical pain they experience from being trapped in pools far too small for creatures who would swim thousands of miles a day in the wild. In captivity, cetaceans become so depressed they self-mutilate and attempt suicide by trying to beach themselves. In terms of physical health, they don’t get anywhere near enough exercise, and they do not reach the life expectancy they would in the ocean, dying at much higher rates and younger ages.

Though parks such as the famous SeaWorld try to convince the public that their cetaceans are content with their “spacious aquariums, restaurant-quality fish, exercise, quality veterinary care, and enrichment,” ultimately, profit is the priority. Don’t believe this? Read these 10 Reasons Why Whales and Dolphins Do NOT Belong in Tanks.

Sign this petition demanding that the U.S. Congress end marine mammal captivity in the United States. And make sure to sign your local representatives asking them to introduce legislation that fights against the captivity and exploitation of whales and dolphins.

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