The bizarre decision to open a multi-million dollar dolphin park in the middle of the baking hot Arizona desert has caused outrage amongst environmentalists.
The plans were announced earlier this year by, Dolphinaris, a Mexico-based wildlife park chain who want to build the $20 million park near Phoenix, 215 miles from the closest sea.
If the controversial plans move ahead then guests could swim with dozens of the marine mammals living in a million gallon tank, The Huffington Post reports.
Now over 100,000 people have made their anger known, signing an online petition urging Ventura Entertainment, Dolphinaris’ parent company, to scrap the plans, despite construction not finishing until the end of summer.
The petition reads:
Dolphins — as ocean going mammals — are NOT meant to spend their precious lives in the desert.
However a manager working on the project has dismissed claims that the animals would be mistreated, insisting that ‘only the president of the United States has better health care than these animals are going to receive’.
Grey Stafford told Arizona’s Fox 10:
Because they do so well in human care, Phoenix is a perfect destination… We have some 5 million residents and tourists each year, so it’s a great audience to reach out and educate and inspire young people of all ages about the need to protect and preserve our ocean.
Despite this, groups like the Humane Society of the United States have tirelessly fought against the capture and display of marine mammals, claiming that their highly social nature and familial bonds couldn’t be replicated in captivity.
Similar protests following the release of the documentary “Blackfish” prompted SeaWorld to phase out its killer whale shows and end the captive breeding of whales.