A bottlenose dolphin at Sea Life Park photographed by Kirsten Ramirez.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KEIKO CONSERVATION ANIMAL RIGHTS HAWAI'I



Another dolphin has died at Sea Life Park. He was the 140th dolphin to die in their care.


WAIMANALO, HAWAII, February 28th, 2019- A Pacific bottlenose dolphin named Kamoana has died at Sea Life Park. He was one of the facility's last surviving wild captured dolphins, having been captured in 1971.

His death is the 140th cetacean death at the park since its opening. An additional 50 bottlenose dolphins, 5 hybrid “wholphins,” 11 false killer whales, 3 melon-headed whales, 9 rough-toothed dolphins, 9 short-finned pilot whales, 13 pan-tropical spotted dolphins, 3 pygmy killer whales, and 36 spinner dolphins have died in the park’s care.

The park told local news that Kamoana, who was considered the “grandpa” of Sea Life Park for his old age, passed away of “natural causes,” but a necropsy will be done to officially confirm the cause of death.


Sea Life Park has reported worrisome causes of deaths to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over the years that include drowning, suffocation, “killed by another dolphin,” food poisoning, trauma, “jumped out of tank,” died at capture, and malnutrition. The park is under investigation by the local Labor Department and was fined $130k by the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division after a tip from an anonymous engineer alleged park management covered up knowledge of the imminent collapse of three structures while keeping them open to the public.


We urge you to join us in asking Hawaii's tourism industry to stop supporting Sea Life Park by signing the petition here.


INFO@KEIKOCONSERVATION.COM


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Photo: Kirsten Ramirez

Sea Life Park is being investigated by the local Labor Department for safety violations after the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division fined the park $130K. The case is still open so the department hasn't released information on which specific violations the park was fined for but we will continue to update this page as those facts emerge. Last month, the park announced plans for a multi-million dollar renovation promptly after leaked details from an alleged building inspection came to light. It's not clear yet whether these events are related to the fines.


Read more at Star Advertiser and don't forget to sign our petition asking Hawaii's tourism businesses to stop supporting Sea Life Park.

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Last month, we released information about an anonymous tip that alleged a private building inspection had been done at Hawaii's Sea Life Park that found numerous buildings in danger of collapse and serious structural damage, putting both visitor and animal safety at risk.

Before releasing this information, our partners at Animal Rights Hawaii contacted the Department Of Land And Natural Resources (DLNR) District Land Agent Barry Cheung, who said he would look into it but never got back to them on the issue despite follow up calls. Shortly thereafter, Sea Life Park announced that their Hawaii Ocean Theater, one of the structures referenced in the leak report, was closed to the public.



With one of the buildings mentioned in the report still open and no known investigation nor penalty given to the park for allegedly covering up a very serious public safety concern, further attempts to contact DLNR received no response. Instead, last week Sea Life Park announced they would be undergoing an estimated $30 million renovation.


While this may sound like good news, these improvements won't be made to areas of the park where they are most needed, instead they'll be for things like an "active" volcano exhibit, restoring part of a historic fishing village called Kaupo, updating the park's restaurant area, and expanding their already questionable sea turtle release program. Zero improvements will be done concerning the state of the dolphin exhibits and tanks. Sea Life Park marketing manager Christina Leos told press "the master plan doesn’t address dolphins, but their welfare is part of the park’s ongoing list of smaller projects like shade covers." A curious statement considering the park has been cited by United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant And Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for failing to provide adequate shade for their animals, including the dolphins, repeatedly despite years of similar claims from the park that they are already in the process of remediating the issue. In addition to these citations, APHIS has also noted in recent years that there are "small patches of missing/peeling paint in the enclosure for the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals in their care (under NOAA permit), concrete surfaces in the Sea Lion Feeding Pool crumbling and deteriorating, and exposed rusting rebar in the Aloha Discovery dolphin pool. There's also Kina, a false killer whale auctioned to the park by the University of Hawaii, that came as a package deal with two bottlenose dolphins desired by the park. Kina has been kept hidden behind the scenes of the park in what has frequently been referred to by animal rights activists as a shallow tub although this species is known to dive 500 meters in the wild.


With so many poor reviews referencing the park's dated and crumbling state on travel websites like Trip Advisor and Yelp, it is discouraging but not surprising that the park will simply be made to "look" nicer while failing to address much needed improvements for the welfare of the animals in their care.


Sea Life Park general manager informed press the park’s redevelopment is on an "aggressive permitting timetable," with public hearings expected in February and March. Keiko Conservation and Animal Rights Hawaii will be very active in these upcoming hearings. We will share updates and ways to get involved.


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