Another Dolphin Death at The Mirage Prompts PETA Letter to MGM Urging an End to SeaWorld Partnership

Young Dolphin May Be 15th to Die at Facility Since 1990

For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

On the heels of the recent death of 12-year-old Beetle—a dolphin who was imprisoned in a tank in the desert at The Mirage casino and hotel in Las Vegas since 2010 and was on a breeding loan from SeaWorld—PETA dispatched a letter this morning to MGM Resorts International Chair and CEO James Murren and The Mirage President Trevor Scherrer urging them to spare other dolphins the misery and dangers of captivity by severing all ties with SeaWorld and closing the dolphin exhibit. PETA is recommending a new business model if MGM wants to keep dolphins in the mix in a more enlightened era: Switch from live captives to stunning cutting-edge virtual reality educational experiences like those created by Magic Leap.

As PETA points out in its letter, Beetle is the second dolphin to die prematurely at The Mirage’s exhibit in recent years and at least the 15th to drop dead since 1990. The cramped concrete tanks at The Mirage and other venues housing captive dolphins—including SeaWorld—condemn these intelligent animals to a lifetime of confinement, forced to swim in their own diluted waste and deprived of everything that is natural and important to them, including the currents, sights, and vastness of the ocean as well as their families and freedom.

“By swapping dolphin tanks for state-of-the-art virtual-reality, holographic, or advanced robotic attractions, The Mirage would spare sensitive animals the misery of life in captivity and provide a 21st century experience for the public,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “As would-be visitors reject SeaWorld’s cruelty and attendance plummets, PETA suggests that MGM see the writing on the tank wall and get out of the captive-dolphin business.”

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PETA’s letter to MGM Chair and CEO James Murren follows.

November 6, 2015

James Murren
Chair and CEO MGM Resorts International

Dear Mr. Murren,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our 3 million members and supporters about the recent death of Beetle, a 12-year-old dolphin held captive on a breeding loan from SeaWorld at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This is the second premature death of a dolphin at The Mirage in recent years and at least the 15th since 1990. Based on the following information, we urge you to sever your ties with SeaWorld immediately and replace the dolphins at The Mirage with a cutting-edge, virtual reality, or robotic attraction that actually appeals to socially conscious millennials and their kids.

People are no longer in the dark when it comes to marine mammals’ needs, and public opinion has turned against keeping cetaceans in captivity. Even kids today know that dolphins are sensitive, intelligent animals who suffer terribly in tanks—unable to fulfill their most innate natural behavior. In the wild, dolphins can travel more than 60 miles per day and navigate by echolocation, bouncing sonar waves off objects to determine their shape, density, distance, and location—but in tanks, they can swim only in circles, as the reverberations from their own sonar bounce off the walls, driving some of them insane. These marine mammals also have distinct personalities, can recognize themselves in mirrors, and can think about the future. Brain scans on bottlenose dolphins show that their cerebral cortex and neocortex are so large that their cognitive capacity is second only to that of humans.

Never before has there been such a fierce public outcry against SeaWorld, where Beetle first made news for at least one publicized attack on a young boy. SeaWorld was recently banned from breeding orcas as a condition of building new tanks, and its attendance continues to sink, as 1 million fewer people visited the park in 2014 than in the year prior. Dozens of educational institutions and corporate partners, including Virgin America, Panama Jack, Taco Bell, and STA Travel—among many others—have cut ties with the disgraced park.

The tide has turned against marine mammal captivity. Please shut down your live dolphin exhibit and retire the animals to a suitable sanctuary. We’d be happy to work with you and to praise you for a humane decision.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk President
cc: Trevor Scherrer, President and COO, The Mirage

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