Dolphinaris' future unclear following temporary closure

SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY, Ariz. (FOX 10) - As Dolphinaris temporarily closes down its facility on Friday, there are some questions as to whether the facility will now be closed for good.

Officials with the facility say an outside panel of experts reevaluate the facility, environmental factors, and all aspects of animal welfare at the facility during the voluntary closure. The closure came about, after the death of Kai, a 22-year-old dolphin that was euthanized following deteriorating health.

Kai is the fourth dolphin to die at the facility. In September 2017, seven-year-old Bodie died from a rare muscle disease. In May 2018, 10-year-old Alia died from a bacterial infection that spread quickly, and 11-year-old Khloe died months later, in December 2018, after a six-year struggle with a chronic illness.

In an e-mail, Jen Smith with Dolphinaris said on Thursday some employees were notified of layoffs on Tuesday, while some will remain. Smith said she has not been able to confirm the exact number of staff members being laid off. Of the four remaining dolphins, they will reportedly be relocated.

Multiple sources have told FOX 10 that the closure will be permanent.

A Dolphinaris official has responded to FOX 10 about whether the closure is permanent.

"I imagine that some people are imagining that is the case, but the facility is being evaluated, so the closing is temporary until the findings are in and an assessment can be made," wrote the spokesperson.

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