For the first time in a decade, a new captive dolphin attraction has been built in the United States from the ground up, this time in Arizona. Dolphinaris, where customers pay to swim with dolphins, opened its doors on October 15. The concrete tank is a mere 10 feet deep, with little shade to protect eight captive-born dolphins from the intense desert sun. Protests began before the grand opening. Because the facility is on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community tribal land, however, the public essentially had no say in the permitting process, and the enclosure meets only the (very) minimum federal standards.
AWI and its allies conducted a public opinion poll and found that 49 percent of Arizona residents don’t support this attraction, compared to 32 percent who do. (The rest were undecided.) Hopefully, market forces alone will make it clear that dolphins don’t belong in the desert.