Dolphins shipped to the Valley via FedEx

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Live dolphins were shipped to the Valley using FedEx and animal rights activists are upset about it.

Cell phone video that was released doesn't show everything. Several people appear to be working on and around one of those stretchers that are used to carry dolphins when they're out of the water. They're inside a FedEx cargo warehouse in Honolulu, Hawaii. Then you hear the voices of the two animal rights activists who are recording the scene.

"Do you have a permit to transfer these dolphins?" shouts one activist.

Soon, someone walks toward the activists from within the warehouse, closes a chain link gate, then drops a metal door, hiding from view what is happening inside.

"This is how all dolphins are transported from one marine park to another," says one of the activists. They work with Animal Rights Hawaii, a nonprofit based in Honolulu.

The video appears to show dolphin trainers and caretakers preparing one of three dolphins for a FedEx plane trip to the Valley. A second video clip appears to show a crate containing one of the dolphins on the back of a flatbed pickup truck.

The animals were bound for Dolphinaris Arizona, a dolphin aquarium located near Scottsdale.

[READ MORE: Dolphins arrive for controversial oceanarium in Valley]

"FedEx is one carrier that is experienced at safely transporting animals, and frankly, is one of the best," wrote Grey Stafford in an email to CBS 5 Investigates.

Stafford is the general manager of Dolphinaris. He confirmed that three new dolphins arrived at his facility from Hawaii on Monday morning. He indicated that they were doing well.

Animal rights activists argue that flying dolphins in a jet across the ocean could be harmful to the animals.

"They are bombarded with foreign sounds, sensations, changing air pressure during flights, and are known to vocalize and thrash out in fear," wrote Lisa Arnseth in an email to CBS 5 Investigates.

[RELATED: Dolphin-rights activists protest opening of new dolphin attraction

Arnseth is the co-founder of Dolphin Free AZ, a volunteer organization which was started to raise awareness about dolphins and advocate against Dolphinaris.

The "swim with the dolphins" facility is set to open in mid-October. It is located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which is a sovereign nation.

The aquarium is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture, but would not be bound by state-level regulations. Critics worry about the effect of the desert heat on the animals, but the aquarium has chillers that are capable of keeping the water at a constant and cool temperature.

Stafford told CBS 5 Investigates that Dolphinaris chartered the FedEx flight, and that a veterinarian and several trainers were on board and tending to the dolphins throughout the flight.

The three new dolphins will join five, which arrived earlier this month from California.

Copyright 2016 CBS 5 News (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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