Miami Seaquarium ‘welcomes’ more county oversight after inspection fallout

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she wants more oversight of the Miami Seaquarium.

MIAMI – After the U.S. Department of Agriculture made public an alarming report revealing that the diets of dolphins at Miami Seaquarium were drastically cut, Miami-Dade County officials issued the park’s new owners, The Dolphin Company, a formal notice of noncompliance.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava now engaging the county’s Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department to provide more oversight on the animals at the Seaquarium and initiated a plan for regular monitoring.

Patrick Pearson, the general manager of the Miami Seaquarium, released a statement Monday.

“We are working every day, through each aspect of operations and animal protection, to provide world-class care to every animal at the Miami Seaquarium,” Pearson said. “Our leadership team welcomes oversight from the mayor and county and we are grateful to the marine mammal experts from around the world that have shared their experience and expertise. We look forward to continuing to improve both as a team and as a facility.”

The USDA inspectors found that the diets of nine dolphins in the park were cut by 60% so that the dolphins would perform better during guest interactions. The seaquarium responded by saying that they addressed the concerns in the reports and that was not the reason why the dolphins’ trainers wanted the diet adjustment.

“They did determine that some of them were overweight,” Pearson said.

The USDA reported one of the Miami Seaquarium’s dolphins lost more than 100 pounds in less than four months. The report also detailed incidents of dolphins becoming aggressive with both trainers and guests.

To address this, the Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation Department is retaining consulting veterinarians to conduct both bimonthly visits for the next three months and unannounced visits. The veterinarians will issue reports on the welfare of the animals.

“You will see an even more active presence from the park’s department to make sure that communications happen, to make sure that these animals are healthy, and to make sure that the public and the trainers are protected as well,” Levine Cava said.

Read the USDA inspection


About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.