The first group of dolphins have arrived in the Valley and are making themselves at home in what will soon be one of the Valley's unique attractions.
Five bottlenose dolphins were delivered from California and were swimming in the new pool at Dolphinaris that is under construction on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community land.
"As soon as we put them in the new pool, they popped up and ate fish and they've been doing well ever since," Dr. Grey Stafford, general manager of Dolphinaris, said.
Dolphinaris is still getting some finishing touches before opening sometime in September. 900,000 gallons of salt water will fill four large pools. Eventually, visitors will get a chance to learn about and swim with the dolphins.
"Our programs are designed for kids of all ages but certainly we want to have school groups here. We want to have young people here learning to appreciate and be inspired by these wonderful creatures," Dr. Stafford said.
High-capacity water chillers will keep the water cool during the Valley's hot summer months.
Stafford said there will be up to 12 dolphins that will live in the pools that were born in captivity, and a veterinarian will always be on hand.
But not everyone is onboard with the new attraction.
"Our concern centers not only on the health and welfare of these dolphins, but the safety of the public, and our ethical and environmental responsibility. These programs teach the wrong message to children, that it is acceptable to use animals for our entertainment, and that they are disposable commodities that can be captured, bred, or shipped between facilities for our selfish desire to be close to them," Courtney Vail with DolphinFreeAZ said. "Dolphinaris is not putting dolphins or their protection first, it is putting profit first."
She also said facilities like the one near Scottsdale encourages the "devastating global trade in dolphins to continue."
Stafford said a portion of their proceeds will go to conservation.
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