Sea lion at MSQ.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Seeks to Shut Down Miami Seaquarium



While we’re hopeful Miami Seaquarium’s doors will close, we can’t let up our fight to end its decades of cruelty to animals.

Recently, there was a lot of buzz around Miami Seaquarium possibly getting shut down. So, what actually happened? We’ll break it down.

On January 22, 2024, a letter from the Miami-Dade County Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, was sent to the Miami Seaquarium regarding her intentions to terminate the lease of the Virginia Keys venue. Mayor Levine Cava has cited the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s concerns over the mistreatment of animals and repeated violations of animal welfare by the Dolphin Company (Miami Seaquarium’s parent company) as her reasoning.  

“Despite these infractions, the Lessee has failed to promptly rectify these matters, culminating in the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Confiscate four animals by the USDA. I’ve been informed that this confiscation is the first time in 30 years that the USDA has taken such a measure with marine mammals.”  

Miami-Dade Commissioner for District 7, Raquel Regalado, whose district includes Virginia Keys, issued a joint statement with Mayor Levine Cava on Monday, stating the following:

“Our priority is not keeping the Seaquarium open, our priority is ensuring that the animals are safe.” 

We greatly applaud Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in seeking to terminate Miami Seaquarium’s lease due to its abysmal animal welfare violations and the intent of the USDA to confiscate four marine mammals from the venue.

According to multiple reports, the Mayor’s office will continue working closely with the USDA in order to “chart the most appropriate course forward, always prioritizing the best interests of the animals residing at the Seaquarium.”

World Animal Protection urges the Mayor and USDA to act swiftly in closing the dilapidated doors of Miami Seaquarium as animals continue to suffer for the Dolphin Company’s profits. We will be closely monitoring the situation, especially regarding all of the animals at the venue, and provide updates as new developments occur. (Be sure to sign up for our emails for this information!)

Just this past November, the USDA issued a scathing report of findings from its inspection in July, citing Miami Seaquarium for inadequate veterinary care and violations of animal handling, facilities, employees and/or attendants, and critical separation.

This inspection was completed just one month before Tokitae (called Lolita by the Seaquarium), the killer whale in the smallest orca tank in North America, died after 52 years in captivity. Most recently, Sundance, a dolphin forced to perform during Miami Seaquarium’s Christmas show, tragically died after refusing to eat.

We look forward to the day when the Miami Seaquarium and the Dolphin Company, and all tourist attractions, can no longer profit from the suffering of wild animals. But we can’t celebrate just yet—now is the time to keep pushing for an end to Miami Seaquarium’s decades of animal abuse. No wild animals belong in captivity and together, we can end this cruel industry. 

We must keep the pressure on the Miami Seaquarium. Let’s make sure Tokitae, Sundance, Hugo didn’t die in vain and put an end to the cruelty currently endured by the animals suffering there.  

Please take action today and sign our petition demanding the venue be closed down and animals freed from Miami Seaquarium’s care. 

If you’ve already signed, please share the petition far and wide!

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