Complaint Filed Against Seaquarium Over Evidence of Dolphins With Open Wounds

Video Footage Reveals Dolphins Repeatedly Banging Heads on Tank, Forced to Perform Tricks That Likely Caused Injuries and Scarring

For Immediate Release:
September 24, 2015

Lakisha Ridley 202-483-7382


This morning, PETA filed a complaint calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate what appear to be blatant violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at the Miami Seaquarium’s “Flipper Dolphin Show.” Photos and video footage show three dolphins with open wounds and extensive scarring on their lower jaws—injuries apparently caused and exacerbated by tricks performed during the show, in which trainers repeatedly plant their feet on the animals’ faces so that they can be pushed around the tank. Several dolphins also banged their heads hard, over and over again, into a grate at the bottom of the “Top Deck Dolphin Show” tank—a disturbing behavior that may be a sign of psychological distress.

© Ingrid N. Visser, Ph.D.

“It’s obvious that dolphins suffer from psychological distress when trapped in tiny tanks, but the shows at the Miami Seaquarium, in which they’re used as water skis, are physically injuring them, too,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “PETA is calling on authorities for action to save these dolphins—and on families to stay far away from these cruel shows.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—also notes that three of the dolphins had open wounds and scarring on their dorsal fins. During the “Flipper Dolphin Show,” a trainer grabbed a dolphin’s injured fin and was pulled around the tank by this fin alone.

In the wild, dolphins can swim more than 60 miles a day with their family pods and have the opportunity to play, choose mates, and seek out their own food. But those kept in captivity are separated from their families and confined to small tanks, where they can only swim in continuous circles and engage in other abnormal behavior. The Seaquarium’s orca show is also under fire—a PETA lawsuit contends that confining the orca Lolita in isolation in the smallest orca tank in North America, with no protection from the hot sun, violates the Endangered Species Act.

Photos and broadcast-quality video footage are available upon request.

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