SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY, Ariz. (AP/FOX 10) -- FOX 10 cameras were near the Dolphinaris facility late Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning, as the last remaining dolphins left the facility.
Rental trucks were seen loading cargo at Dolphinaris late Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning, the same trucks were seen by FOX 10 cameras at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, transferring the cargo onto an airplane. FOX 10 has learned that the plane landed in Fort Lauderdale for refueling, before heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
According to a statement by Coral World Ocean Park, four dolphins from Dolphinaris have now arrived at its St. Thomas Sea Sanctuary at Water Bay. The four dolphins, according to the statement, will spend time in the sanctuary's specialty area s whil e they adjust to their new home, and will then spend several months building strong relationships with other dolphins at the facility before they are introduced to the public.
Dolphinaris Arizona officials decided to temporarily close the facility 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.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson with Dolphinaris said on Tuesday the facility is not permanently closed, even though signs at the business have been taken down. Multiple sources have told FOX 10 that Dolphinaris' closure is permanent.
On February 15, a viewer sent a photo to FOX 10 showing crews removing the Dolphinaris sign, letter by letter. By the time the viewer took the photo, crews have already removed most of the sign, with the letters "R", "I", and "S" from "Dolphinaris" still hanging on the exterior wall. A temporary sign for one of the restaurants near the facility has since been put in place of the original Dolphinaris sign.