Dolphinaris Arizona officials confident facility will reopen "as a new concept"

SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- Officials with Dolphinaris say they are confident the facility will "reopen as a new concept" that will not involve dolphins.

The decision was announced in a statement Wednesday evening, after news that the four remaining dolphins at Dolphinaris have been shipped to a sanctuary at the U.S. Virgin Islands. FOX 10 cameras were near the Dolphinaris facility late Tuesday night, as the last remaining dolphins left the facility. The cargo was then seen transferred onto an airplane.

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 areas while 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.

According to the statement released by Dolphinaris Arizona late Wednesday evening, a joint decision was made with Dolphin Quest to keep all four dolphins together. Dolphin Quest owns two of the dolphins. The dolphins were loaded onto a private jet, and were accompanied by their trainers and veterinary staff.

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.