NEAR SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- Officials with Dolphinaris say four dolphins now remain at the facility, following the death of 22-year-old Kai early Thursday.
According to a statement by officials Thursday night, Kai experienced deteriorating conditions, following signs of difficulty swimming, eating and breathing. Despite responding to initial treatment, his health took a sudden turn for the worse Wednesday night, and a decision was made to euthanize him.
Kai's death comes after three other bottlenose dolphin deaths within a span of about 16 months. 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.
"We are devastated by our losses and are getting help from external experts to help ensure the health of these dolphins," read a portion of the statement released Friday. Dolphinaris officials have declined on-camera interviews, as they claim staff members have received death threats from protestors.
In the same statement, Dolphinaris officials say they respect the passion the protesters have for animals, but also claims some of the protesters may be misinformed about dolphins that have been born and raised in human care.
"It would be extremely dangerous and illegal to release these dolphins into the ocean where they would likely die of starvation, disease or predation. They rely on their care team for their food, care, exercise, and quality of life," read a portion of the statement.
Meanwhile, an official with PETA announced Friday that PETA protesters will join Dolphin Free AZ in calling on Dolphinaris to send their remaining dolphins to seaside sanctuaries during a protest Saturday.
Officials with Dolphinaris claim there are no such sanctuaries approved by the Federal government that meets the Marine Mammal Protection Act requirements.
"Dolphins and other marine mammals are highly protected by government regulation and we work closely with regulators to ensure we meet, and exceed dolphin care requirements," read a portion of the statement.
Local animal rights activists are repeating calls to close down to close down Dolphinaris.
"Maybe they can put something else in that place to make millions like they're looking to make, but not at the expense of these dolphins," said Jeanette McCourt with Dolphin Free AZ. "It's unprecedented. Four dolphins have never died in a facility in this short of a period of time in our history, in the world, not just Arizona, so we need to close it down."
McCourt says whatever the reason, dolphins should never be used for entertainment.
"It's not education watching a dolphin swim in a pool and push a ball, that's not what they do in the wild," said McCourt. "They are very family oriented. Their brains are just like humans, if not even smarter."