SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Dolphinaris in Scottsdale opened about a year ago, and on Thursday, FOX 10 Phoenix has learned one of the dolphins at the aquarium has died.
The swim with dolphins facility has been controversial, with animal activists saying dolphins don't belong in the desert.
The Bottlenose Dolphin that died was Bodie, a seven-year-old male. Bodie died on Saturday, September 23.
Dolphinaris is in North Scottsdale, off the 101, and people pay to be close to the dolphins or even to get in the water with them.
Management said the dolphins were bred in captivity, and would not survive in the ocean, and adds they are well-treated and happy in this facility, which management said meets all corporate veterinary practice, as well as U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations.
Bodie was comparatively young, for a Bottlenose Dolphin. Dolphinaris officials said by getting people close to dolphins, it encourages guests to "become stewards of the oceans and its inhabitants."
Critics, however, said it's just plain cruel and unhealthy to treat dolphins this way.
"We do not support the existence of it," said Stephanie Nichols-YOung with the Animal Defense League of Arizona. "They cannot thrive in captive environment. Nothing like the sea. Cannot dive, swim, not a healthy environment for them."
Dolphinaris declined an on-camera interview, but did send FOX 10 Phoenix a statement.
The statement said, in part:
"Bodie had been experiencing a rare muscle disease and was under constant veterinary care. The veterinary team consulted with experts throughout the United States and Europe in hopes of finding a cure. Unfortunately, no solution was found. "