Mirage Las Vegas Now Dolphin-Free


The last three dolphins held by The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip have left the casino resort. According to a press release sent on Tuesday, Huf-N-Puf, Coco, and Lady Ace are en route to Coral World Ocean Park’s Sea Sanctuary at Water Bay in the US Virgin Islands.

In this undated publicity photo from The Mirage, a dolphin is shown responding to commands for a tourist who has paid for a private ‘dolphin experience.’ (Image: Conde Nast Traveler)

“We have found an excellent home for our dolphins with Coral World and its innovative Sea Sanctuary,” Mirage president Joe Lupo said in the press release.

All three are female Atlantic bottlenoses. Lady Ace was born at The Mirage on Aug. 16, 2019, and named after the Las Vegas Aces, who went on to win the WNBA Championship that year.

This final trio follows Karli, Sofi, and Osborne off the property. They were returned in February to SeaWorld San Diego, which had loaned the animals to The Mirage.

Coral World’s Sea Sanctuary is an exceptional home for our dolphins,” added David Blasko, executive director of animal care at The Mirage, who accompanied the three dolphins on the transport flight.

According to the press release, the dolphins’ new home in St. Thomas offers two acres of swimming space full of fish and invertebrates to “provide enrichment and stimulation for the dolphins.” Counting the new trio, 10 dolphins in total will inhabit the enclosure.

“The dolphins will continue receiving the quality professional care they had at The Mirage,” Lupo’s statement read.

According to animal activists, that bar should be higher.

Not Much of a Habitat

In its final year of operation, four bottlenose dolphins died at The Mirage. They included K2, an 11-year-old who died in September 2022 of a suspected respiratory illness. The same suspected cause of death was given earlier that month for a 19-year-old bottlenose named Maverick. In April 2022, a 13-year-old bottlenose named Bella succumbed to gastroenteritis.

In November 2022, The Mirage announced the permanent closure of Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. It promised that the attraction’s dolphins, white tigers, white lions, and leopards would be cared for by “well-trained, highly respected animal care professionals and veterinary experts.”

When the Seminole Tribe of Florida purchased the Mirage from MGM Resorts International for $1.075 billion last December, intending to transform it into the first Hard Rock resort on the Strip, the shuttered dolphin habitat still housed seven bottlenoses. They included Duchess, the last of the five original dolphins to open the habitat in 1990. In January 2023, she became the habitat’s final fatality at age 48.

Wild bottlenose dolphins typically live 40 to 60 years, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The average survival time in captivity for all bottlenose dolphins who live for more than one year is 12 years, 9 months, and 8 days.

Since the popular Mirage attraction opened in 1990, 14 dolphins have died from various causes and at different ages while on the property. Animal rights activists claim the number of dolphin fatalities is higher.

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