Feds, County Crack Down on Seaquarium; PETA Pushes for Immediate Lease Termination

For Immediate Release:
November 3, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382


This morning, in light of the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report—which included citations for housing a dolphin with others who apparently broke several of her ribs, failing to provide protection from direct sunlight (which can cause or perpetuate eye lesions), allowing a dolphin trainer to undermine the attending veterinarian’s authority, and failing to maintain enclosures in good repair, among other violations—PETA fired off a letter to Miami-Dade County officials urging them to immediately terminate the Miami Seaquarium’s lease.

The report prompted the county to issue the Seaquarium a notice of default on its lease, which requires that the facility maintain its property in “a good state of repair” and “maintain animals in accordance with federal laws.” The county’s notice gives the Seaquarium 45 days from November 1 to improve conditions for the animals—but as PETA points out in its letter, the facility has already had years to rectify the chronic and repeat violations documented in USDA reports from 2021, 2022, and 2023.

“Having failed at every opportunity to clean up its act, the Miami Seaquarium is still subjecting animals to injuries from incompatible tankmates and denying them shelter from the scorching Miami sun, just as it did Lolita,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on Miami-Dade County to break this cycle of abuse by immediately terminating this abusement park’s lease.”

miami seaquarium dolphin death photo

A dolphin named Abaco was left bloody at the Miami Seaquarium after his rostrum (a dolphin’s snout) got caught in the fence of an enclosure.

Other violations noted in the USDA’s most recent inspection report include failing to provide necessary equipment to ensure adequate veterinary care and treatment (three manatees hadn’t been weighed in more than five years because the Seaquarium didn’t have the scales to do so); ignoring the attending veterinarian’s recommendations, including that a dolphin who had ingested plastic and concrete from a dilapidated enclosure should be moved; and failing to adequately handle animals during public interactions, resulting in a guest being bitten on the hand by a dolphin.

The new report repeats several violations listed in the USDA’s 2021 and/or 2022 inspection reports, including ignoring veterinary recommendations; housing incompatible animals together, resulting in injuries, with the same dolphin sustaining broken ribs in both 2021 and 2023; and putting trainers and guests at risk for physical harm.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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