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For Immediate Release: 06/18/09

Cousteau calls dolphin care at Las Vegas hotel a Mirage

Famed oceanographer joins Born Free USA in opposing hotel’s dolphin import request

Las Vegas, NV — Renowned marine researcher, educator, and environmentalist, Jean-Michel Cousteau has joined Born Free USA and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in opposition to the Mirage hotel’s April 27, 2009 request to import two bottlenose dolphins. In light of the June 4, 2009 death of yet another dolphin in the Mirage hotel’s care, the groups argue that importation to the hotel’s pool is nothing more than a “death sentence” for dolphins.

“The more we learn about dolphins, the more we must admit they are our counterparts — intelligent, social, self-aware, capable of complex relationships, emotions, and learning. To consign them to a place like the Mirage hotel, with its 75 percent mortality rate for dolphins, and solely for our entertainment, is to impose a death sentence on innocents,” said Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society. “In addition, the display of marine mammals for commercial gain does not represent the values we should be passing on to future generations. I believe this request and the continuation of this practice must be denied if we are to respect ourselves in addition to respecting the dolphins.”

Born Free USA and WSPA had initially voiced their opposition to the hotel’s request on May 26, 2009 with the submission of an official complaint in which they called on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to deny the hotel’s request. The groups asked 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.

“Time and time again, the Mirage hotel has proven it cannot provide the proper care for these animals. We know this because they keep dying,” said Monica Engebretson, senior program associate for Born Free USA. “The last place a dolphin belongs is in a pool, in a hotel, in a city in the middle of the Nevada desert.”

“Importing additional dolphins 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.

A copy of the above referenced comments submitted by Born Free USA to the NMFS can be viewed at www.bornfreeusa.org/miragedolphins.

The mission of Ocean Futures Society is to explore our global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean's vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet. More information is available at www.oceanfutures.org.

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Contact:
Monica Engebretson, Born Free USA, 916.447.3085 x210, monica@bornfreeusa.org
Ocean Futures Society, 805.899.8899, contact@oceanfutures.org

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