Close the Dolphin Death Pool at the Mirage in Las Vegas

Target: David Blasko, Director of Animal Care, The Mirage and the NV Government.
Goal: To close the dolphin habitat at the Mirage, Las Vegas before another innocent dolphin is killed.

The dolphin habitat at the Mirage in Las Vegas has been rightly named the dolphin death pool due to a 75% fatality rate. These dolphins live in inhumane conditions: the concrete pools are too small, they breathe in fumes, and they are given no protection from the harsh desert climate. Often these conditions cause respiratory infections and diseases that claim their lives prematurely. When a dolphin dies it is quickly replaced, putting yet another innocent life at stake and creating a viscous cycle that will not end until the pool is closed.

The Mirage claims that the dolphin pool is educational and used as a research tool, but the cost of being a trainer for a day is $495- $795, this proves that the dolphins are solely being used for profit. No enclosure can compare to the vast freedom of the open sea and keeping them in these small pools is completely heartless. Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures, scientists have determined that their cognitive abilities rank closest to ours. They are self- aware, think about the future and create emotional bonds with each other. Their sentient nature has brought up an important ethical issue that they should be treated humanely. Tragically this is far from the case at the Mirage and for that matter any environment they are held in captivity as mere spectacles for profit.

What many don’t realize is that dolphins are often captured from the wild to be put on display as mere commodities. Often this fuels the dolphin slaughter industry like in Tajii, Japan which was exposed by the award winning documentary “The Cove.” Please think about these facts the next time you think of watching a dolphin show or swimming in a dolphin pool.  A small pool in Vegas is a horrific place for a dolphin to live surrounded by noise, lights, air pollution and a harsh climate they are offered no protection from. The ever present grin on a dolphins face is often mistaken for their joyfulness, but the only place these highly intelligent animals are truly happy is the boundless sea.


Dear David Blasko, director of animal care and the NV Government,

It is no wonder that the dolphin pool at the Mirage in Las Vegas has earned the name dolphin death pool. These highly intelligent creatures are forced to live in small enclosures. They are exposed to fumes from the nearby roads and are offered no protection from the desert climate. These conditions have cause respiratory problems and disease resulting in a 75% fatality rate. This statistic alone shows that this is an inhumane environment and as the dolphins are replaced, often by being captured from the wild, a viscous cycle takes place that will not end until the pool is closed.

These animals have a cognitive aptitude that is second to ours, this poses an important ethical issue that they should be treated as our equals or at least respected as sentient beings. The mirage claims that they are used for research and education, but with the high prices for interacting with them it is obvious that they are simply being used for profit.  Please help save the lives of these incredible animals. A small enclosure in the middle of a city is no place for an animal that is used to living in the vast, open sea.


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  1. Sheri Hubball says:

    It is absolutely horrendous the way these intelligent, sentient beings are abused. I will never visit a place that houses dolphins in these conditions or holds them captive, period. These animals deserve to be wild and free!

  2. Cetaceans including dolphins and whales belong in the ocean, not in a darn fish tank. Put the dolphins back where they belong, convince them to carry cameras and transponders so we have an easy time putting glass bottom boats and airships over them, and put the tourists in the boats and airships with their cameras. Whale research should involve nothing more painful than occasional biopsy darts and the carrying of cameras and other research gear by the cetacea for real research, not commercial murder!

    Sincerely Yours,
    John Green.

    • I read your comment and noticed a few flaws, for one, are you saying dolphins matter because they’re “mammals like us” but since fish aren’t they do deserve to be in a tank? Two, you say to “build them what they need”(referring to the dolphins), but then say “the fish will multiply”, so are they mammals, or not? Three, you say “the Dolphins are not animals.” But in fact sir, they are. Not only are they animals, but they are also “mammals like us.” Four, you point our their basic needs, air and food, but in this article, there is no mention that they are not getting enough food or oxygen, they do mention toxins, but they are breathing air. Five, and I promise I’m almost done, you say “tear down your casino. And build them a natural habitat!.” Two flaws with this statement(other than grammar), 1. Tearing down the casino would mean no funds to build them a substantial natural habitat, and with no casino there would be no one to feed or take care of the dolphins, 2. You can’t very well build a “natural habitat,” I mean the words natural and build don’t really go together. I would just like a bit of an explanation of each of the flaws I found in your comment. Feel free to reply!

  4. Though I quickly signed this petition and I’m 100% against cruelty, not even killing bugs, I eat no meat and only buy milk and eggs where I can see the animals are living a carefree life, I visit the local farm to make sure. I think it is important to know most dolphins in the US are not captured. Some are rescued and kept when they are not able to be returned. Most are born in captivity and kept with their families. In these places dolphins outlive wild dolphins. They are in parks that provide humane conditions, medical care and participate in rehab and release programs. As far as I know it is illegal to imprison captured dolphins. Please remember I am against all cruelty. I also believe some places do care about their animals

    • Joan, are you serious? Captivity is another word for jail. Among humans, only the bad go to jail. Animals have committed no crime, so why put them in jail? How do you think those “care free” cows produce milk? Because they are being constantly inpregnated so they produce milk. Have you ever asked what happened to the calves? I think you need a big dose of reality check.

      • betty j murphy says:

        I totally agree with you Maria……..Joan needs some help understanding how cetaceans in captured environments spend their days and nights..languishing in more often than not tiny “ponds”, water being over chlorinated, and filthy! They are NOT happy and and they do not “enjoy” doing tricks for stupid unenlightened or even uncaring people! DOLPHINS AND ORCAS IN MARINE SHOWS AFE CAPTURED…Joan needs a good hard look at THE COVE… cannot get much clearer than that film!!! The slaughter at Taiji every day for months on end should help her understand.THAT is where they come from, Joan……

        • I am a little on Joan’s side here, she’s not saying ALL marine animals at Seaworld or any entertainment place come from a rehab center, she’s saying some. And several of her facts are correct. However your mention of THE COVE in Taiji is not where the entertainment dolphins come from. Let me point out that I AM COMPLETELY AGAINST THAT, but as you mentioned it is “slaughter”, so they couldn’t very well have dead dolphins doing shows for entertainment.

    • I am sorry but you are sadly uninformed about dolphins and whales in captivity. It is not humane and it does support the Taiji slaughter. This mammals are used to the open seas and swimming 40 to 80 miles per day. In small tanks the have only a few feet. They are fed dead frozen fish, they are given anti depressants and live a fraction of their natural life time. Check out the movie the Cove. If you google it you can watch the entire movie. They do not release them. Please, you sound like you care, inform yourself.

    • Joan is right. Particularly those animals born in captivity are not capable of being released in the wild. However, this is no excuse for the Mirage to keep the amount of dolphins they have in at least half the space they really require. And no shade.

  5. This premise of this is incorrect on so many levels and to “target” a paid care giver is wrong. We humans are not taking less of the Earths surface each year we are taking more. The wild is no longer safe as can be seen on a daily basis. Look at tuna fishing, oil spills, boat strikes and deliberate cruelty, such as dolphins and other marine mammals being shot with guns, arrows, spear guns, hit with machetes, fireworks tossed into their mouths as they beg for food, as the dolphins are being “trained” to do in the wild in the Southeastern and Gulf coasts of the US, by boaters. Taji does not exist for zoological parks. That industry has been around for centuries for consumption of dolphin and whale meat by the Japanese people, this industry is also found in other places through out the world. A precious few of these animals are rescued from this true Death Pool by zoological parks and aquariums. Yet another lie that is being propagated by people who make big bucks from being “activists”, look it up for yourselves, just don’t believe what others say.

    Go to Taji and see it. It is awful and brutal, but you will see what it is really about and you will find yourself being thankful that such a few are rescued out of that horrible place. Also you will see that nobody cares if you walk on and take photos. I did it with no stealth tactics needed. The Cove is pure Hollywood, though I am grateful that it showed how terrible Taji is, I wish they had not felt it necessary to lie about why Taji is in operation.

    The animal care takers do their best everyday for those dolphins at the Mirage. These people are not getting rich; they do it out of love and responsibility. These are the true animal activists, they just don’t talk, they actively do something for animals everyday. These dolphins deserve the best care and these Care takers provide that. They are not the ones that have the money or say so about locations or pools sizes, the pools at the Mirage exceed all federal regulations, as set by the USDA, as do most marine mammal facilities in the US. Also the death rate of animals in the wild is 100%, all living things die, it is a questions of where, when and how. The animals in captivity are protected and they educate and raise the awareness of all that see them, not just the Trainer’s for a Day.

    Maybe one day the human race will mature and the wild places will once again be safe, but I do not think that is going to happen anytime soon. In the mean time we should do our best to keep animals as safe as possible for the future. And instead of worrying about well cared for animals why don’t we focus our attention on animals that need help, such as our domestic animals. How many unwanted pets are suffering right now? Go be an activist and actively do something for animals that need help in humane societies and animal shelters.

    • Mark Lavelle says:

      >>Go to Taji and see it. It is awful and brutal, but you will see what it is really about and you will find yourself being thankful that such a few are rescued out of that horrible place. <

      Myer, some of what you point to about Taiji may be indeed true now.

      However, on November 2. 2010, after Ric O'Barry suddenly boycotted Taiji Mayor Sangen's sham "Conference on Dolphin Hunting" and instead lead the hordes of Japanese and international media assembled there over to the Cove, we were threatened with death by the Mayor's ultranationalist bullies, and only police intervention saved O'Barry from being stabbed.

      The Shingu Police Chief came to our hotel and had his officers form a protective "dolphin-like" ring around us and safely escorted us to the train station. We thanked him when he told us our lives were in danger.

      If you go to Shinagawa JR train station and exit on the west side, you will have a chance to view the ultimate example of where the real financial basis for the Taiji dolphin slaughter resides: The Epson Marine Center and Prince Hotels complex.

      Those captive dolphins from Taiji on exhibit fuel a muti-million dollar conglomerate whereby the dolphins draw customers from all over Japan to patronize the hotels, bowl in the Dolphin bowling alleys, pay tennis in the Dolphin tennis courts, golf on the Dolphin golf practice range, ride the Dolphin merry-go-round, buy dolphin jewelry at the Dolphin shop, eat at the Dolphin restaurant, stay in the Dolphin hotel suites, etc.

      The $130,000-$150,000 per bottlenose dolphin the Taiji fishermen earn is chicken feed compared to the profits the captured "lucky" dolphins bring in.

      But nobody in Japan makes the connection–yet. All it would take would be for a few dedicated Japanese dolphin-loving volunteers to start passing out free Japanese language-dubbed copies of "The Cove" with an explanatory flyer to folks as they wait in front of the Epson Marine Center (a public sidewalk).

  6. James Davidson says:

    Boycott the Mirage until they shut down the death pool. Boycott Japan as that is where they are probably coming from. The murder capital of the world, Taiji

  7. I want to start a protest to boycott the mirage untill they close there dolphine exhibit I’m contacting other animal rights organization..if anyone want to get involved please email me

    • I am haunted every day by what I saw at the Mirage in August. I have started researching the legalities, but have found it difficult to find concrete regulations regarding the care and space requirements for dolphins.

      I can tell you this, the Mirage replied to my inquiry about dolphin health and quality of life by stating that they receive “vigorous evaluations” every year by the USDA. After visiting the USDA site I found out that NO INSPECTION of any kind has been performed in 2 years. Also, most of the standards and regulations manuals regarding marine mammels in captivity have not been updated since 1992!

      I don’t know where to go from here. I am disabled and don’t have the brain of an investigative reporter. I feel that if a news program like 60 minutes did a comprehensive report about this situation, every American would stand behind the desert Dolphins and insist they be removed from this obscene torture.

      • Barb,
        Perhaps you can contact NMFS, NOAA and go from there. I am not sure who the contact is for that area.
        Thank you for doing all you can to help cetaceans.

    • betty j murphy says:

      Go for it Krista.and if you have friends in Japan.please make sure they are far too many Japanese citizens STILL are completely unaware of what happens in Taiji every September-March! You will find support on social media!!!

    • Michael Harvey says:

      I’m sure that your boycott should be effective. Be sure to tell them why you have cancelled your reservations.

  8. Dolphin Captivity is a death sentence for dolphins! And this is the reason why so many of them die in captivity at an early age. For the owners of the Mirage to ignore the fact that dolphins have a 75 percent mortality rate here and then just get new dolphins to replace the ones that keep dying shows that they are totally lacking in morality! Everyone should boycott this dolphin death pool which is causing so much suffering for these highly intelligent and sensitive mammals. It is for pure profit that these owners of the Mirage in Las Vegas are exploiting and abusing these dolphins! No one should buy tickets to a dolphin show or to swim with them in a dolphin pool, as you are only encouraging dolphin captivity which is a very unhappy life for a dolphin and also you’re encouraging the horrific dolphin hunts that take place in Taiji, Japan every year! It is dolphin captivity which drives the dolphin hunts as the ones which aren’t selected to go to dolphinariums are given to the fisherman to slaughter!
    Everyone should see the movie “The Cove”
    which shows how dolphin captivity and dolphin slaughter go hand in hand.

  9. Linda Palcit says:

    I visit Vegas every year. I would NEVER support this – ever. Stupid.

  10. Inhumane dolphin captivity only proves mortality.

  11. David Bernazani says:

    Linda is right- only stupid people would support such obvious cruelty by buying tickets. Casinos are NO place for dolphins, big cats, or any other animals. It’s pure exploitation, and a perfect example of human greed and meanness. You would have to be a moron to buy tickets for a place like this.

  12. You idiots realize that if these dolphins were released into the ocean they would probably die or be killed the VERY SAME DAY? All of these dolphins were born at this facility, the family is still intact. This environment is all they know and are trained to live happy, healthy lives. Believe me if you want.

  13. David Bernazani says:

    Bryant: I believe that the dolphins were born there, of parents or grandparents who were kidnapped from their families. Of course they can’t be jus dumped back in the ocean. Which is why everyone who cares about them agrees that these marine parks which have made so much money off the dolphins’ captivity should now retire them in closed lagoon habitats, where they can swim deep,’taste real seawater, and feel the dysthymia of the sea, and perhaps eventually be rehabilitated and released. Meanwhile the companies can charge people to come see them. Either way, they should NOT be bred any more. SeaWorld-style parks are over– they just have to man up and do the right thing.

    • I agree David on your comment to Bryant:
      Even though these dolphins may have been bred and born there, they are still wild mammals that have instincts, studies where done on captive turkeys, they became wild within days after being released. Projects like Ric O’Barry, “The Dolphin Project” are doing wonderful things for dolphins that are rescued from captivity. Plans are put in place for sea pens, and then gradual release to the wild free blue beautiful ocean, where they belong. Change must begin for the future, it must be about preservation and protection for all wild animals, keeping them in their natural habitats. Its all about money, but it will end soon becuase this industry is outdated, cruel, and inhumane and no longer is excepted by the public, thanks to blackfish and the cove,.. the movement is now NO CAPTIVITY!

    • 100% agree David.

  14. Ashamed human says:

    Sickened by the conditions at Mirage. The dolphins are not allowed even the consideration given an aquarium goldfish.. Not an artificial plant or rock formation to escape the desert sun

    If you were a dolphin could you imagine anything worse than a shallow swimming pool in the middle of the desert?

    If the dolphin had a choice, would it live in the desert in a concrete pool? Or would it swim unhindered in the natural environment it was born to?

  15. Thanks for doing this. Let’s incentivate thd world to stop the cruelty

  16. I live in Las Vegas, the summer is scorching 120 degree hot and dry, its a terrible place for a human to live, why on Gods green earth are their magnificent dolphins being kept here for display. I am appalled at the casino industry for allowing this to happen, I would like to ask them how they would feel if they were ripped from their family pod, brutaly and stressfully shipped in trucks and airlines, and then dumped in a small pathetic pool all alone, just so the casino moguls can keep driving their escalades and live in 20 thousand square feet houses. I will never patronize these properties again until they quit their insane ideas that its ok to keep wild intelligent mammals in fish tanks. Shame, shame on Vegas Casino’s! Release the dolphins back to where they belong, THE OCEAN!

  17. Michelle Durham says:


  18. Anika Abrantes says:

    Get Boys to Men and any other performers to cancel their shows there! This will definately have them listening!

  19. this all you people have to do? If you intelligence to equal your insanity you may think about the big picture here. WE LEARN ABOUT ANIMALS BECAUSE THEY ARE IN CAPIVITY. How would you learn if you did not observe? The facts that you are signing are far less than accurate. You are doomed to stupidity if you follow this petition. Have any of you fact checked the contents written? No you see a person paint an image of dolphins in cruel cramped quarters yet you all go to zoo’s. Maybe your parents took you or you own a dog. Hey maybe you had a hamburger from those poor captive cows. Either way I am calling the author of this petition out to state the facts on his death toll percentage. A liar is a liar. And if you don’t lead, you follow. Lots of liars to follow out there…you may as well sign the petition and then put the bag over your head and hide in the closet you poor pathetic followers.

  20. Claire Voutsinas says:

    David please give more information ,ie,what are the conditions of these captive dolphins.
    They can be seen in their natural environment.
    Puzzles me the anger you are displaying when making your point.
    Thankfully every one is allowed an opinion.
    I don’t agree with your viewpoint ,but am able to
    Do so in a respectful manner .

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