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For Immediate Release: 06/05/09

Battle over Mirage hotel dolphin import permit heats up

Update on Jan. 27, 2011: Tell top officials at The Mirage and MGM Resorts that their deadly dolphin pool should be shut down.

Las Vegas, NV — In light of yesterday’s death of yet another dolphin at the Mirage hotel’s dolphin “habitat,” Born Free USA is calling on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to deny the hotel’s request to import additional dolphins into the country.

Born Free USA had initially voiced its numerous concerns about the request to the NMFS on May 26, 2009. The June 4 death of 2-year-old Sgt. Pepper, the 14th reported dolphin to die in the care of the Mirage hotel, lends an increased urgency to the request.

“It would be a tragedy to allow the Mirage hotel to import additional dolphins,” said Monica Engebretson, senior program associate for Born Free USA. “With a death rate of close to 75%, the Mirage hotel has repeatedly proven it cannot provide adequate care for these complex and intelligent mammals.”

The Mirage hotel filed the permit to import two bottlenose dolphins on April 27, 2009, citing the purpose of public display. Born Free USA responded to the request asking the permit be denied on the grounds of the hotel’s dismal animal care record, the lack of educational and conservation value of the display, animal welfare and transport concerns, and more.

“As if transporting marine mammals from the Bahamas to Las Vegas were not torture enough, releasing them to the ‘death pool’ at the Mirage hotel, given the slim chance of their long-term survival, is just plain unconscionable,” added Engebretson. “The NMFS must immediately deny this request.”

Born Free USA is a national non-profit animal welfare and conservation organization and nationally recognized leader on exotic animal legislation and international wildlife trade issues. Born Free USA was founded on the principle of the classic movie Born Free — to Keep Wildlife in the Wild. More information can be found at www.bornfreeusa.org.


Monica Engebretson, Born Free USA, 916.447.3085 x210, monica@bornfreeusa.org

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