Dolphin Quest terminates contract with Dolphinaris after the death of a 4th dolphin at the facility

SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY, Ariz. (FOX 10) - Dolphin Quest, the company that loans dolphins to Dolphinaris, has terminated its contract with Dolphinaris following the recent death of Kai.

The company released the following statement:

"The Dolphin Quest team is heartbroken over the loss of our beloved Kai, a 22-year-old male dolphin, who died Thursday while in the care of Dolphinaris Arizona. The exact cause of death is unknown at this time pending the results of a post-mortem analysis.

Kai was on loan to Dolphinaris, located in Scottsdale, AZ, where he participated in education and experiential learning programs for the public. As of yesterday, Dolphin Quest has formally terminated its animal loan agreement with Dolphinaris, and it is evaluating next steps for the remaining two Dolphin Quest animals.

'The safety and health of our animals is our top priority,' says Dr. Rae Stone, Co-Founder of Dolphin Quest. 'In spite of their best efforts, the animal health concerns have not been resolved at Dolphinaris. We have a senior marine mammal specialist from Dolphin Quest onsite at Dolphinaris who knows our remaining dolphins well and is closely monitoring them. They are bright, alert and in good condition at this time. We have contacted USDA and are working with them as we move forward.'

While we grieve Kai and the other losses at Dolphinaris, we are focused now on the remaining dolphins and the best options for them."

This latest death comes after the deaths of three bottlenose dolphins within a span of less than two years. In September 2017, seven-year-old Bodie died. In May 2018, 10-year-old Alia died, and 11-year-old Khloe died months later, in December 2018. Dolphin Quest officials did not say when the dolphins will be removed, or where the dolphins will be housed, only saying they are exploring all options.

As for Dolphinaris, it is governed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Department officials say they can "neither confirm nor deny" there is an investigation, but did say "repeat noncompliance with regulations and serious incidents could lead to enforcement actions such as letters of warning, fines, having their license suspended or cancelled, and possibly the confiscation of the animals."

Meanwhile, Dolphinaris' website is still accepting reservations for dolphin experiences, even though at some point in the near future, only two of the original eight dolphins will remain at the facility.