Penguins captive at Miami Seaquarium.

Miami-Dade County Urged to File Animal Cruelty Charges Against Miami Seaquarium



World Animal Protection is asking Miami-Dade County to file animal cruelty charges against Miami Seaquarium and seize its suffering animals.

Miami Seaquarium has racked up numerous animal welfare violations and has a long track record of animal deaths and public safety issues. In March, we applauded Miami-Dade County for terminating the decrepit aquarium’s lease, giving it weeks to vacate. Unfortunately, the Dolphin Company (which owns Miami Seaquarium) has indicated that it will fight the termination in court. But the county can immediately protect Miami Seaquarium’s animals by seizing them under the state’s cruelty laws. 

The County Can Confiscate Neglected and Mistreated Animals

Years of scathing US Department of Agriculture inspection reports, undercover accounts, and employee whistleblowers make it clear that Miami Seaquarium is unable to care for the dolphins, tortoises, fishes, and many other animals languishing in tanks and cages. Under Florida’s animal cruelty statutes (§828.073), neglected and mistreated animals can be confiscated by the state.

Dr. Crystal Heath, a veterinarian and head of Our Honor, has similarly called on the county to take criminal action against the facility. In February, Dr. Heath sent a letter, signed by 18 veterinarians, detailing the conditions she observed at Miami Seaquarium that are in violation of the cruelty statutes.

Her letter cites many serious problems, including: 

  • Fishes with cloudy eyes and decreased movement indicating poor water quality and disease 
  • Bamboo sharks kept in an inappropriately sized pool, and a shark with skin lesions 
  • Stingrays confined to a shallow pool 
  • Flamingos held in a pen directly under constant, blasting music  
  • Pinnipeds held in small areas without enrichment 
  • A harbor seal with hair loss and skin lesions from pool water too warm for the species 
  • Penguins held in a small, poorly ventilated building with black mold (video below) 
  • Too many dolphins for the space available 
  • Too many animals and too few veterinary staff

Inadequate Care of Parrots

World Animal Protection also told Miami-Dade County that we are particularly concerned about the parrots, some of whom we believe to be sick. The current veterinarian does not specialize in avian medicine. It’s critical these birds receive prompt veterinary care.

Parrot at Miami Seaquarium.

Dario Endara / We Animals Media

All the animals at Miami Seaquarium must be moved to sanctuaries or, where sanctuaries do not exist, to venues better equipped to care for them. Join our campaign by asking the Dolphin Company to relinquish its animals as we continue to work with the county in shutting down Miami Seaquarium.

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