NEAR SCOTTSDALE (3TV/CBS 5) – Less than a week after another one of its dolphins died – the fourth in about 18 months – Dolphinaris Arizona announced Tuesday that it is “temporarily closing to seek solutions.”
The closure, which the facility describes as a "voluntary and proactive measure," begins Friday, Feb. 8.
Dolphinaris says it will have an "outside panel of experts (reevaluate) the facility, environmental factors and all aspects of animal welfare at the facility."
There are four dolphins still at Dolphinaris.
Two of them were on loan from Dolphin Quest, which ended its agreement with the facility after Kai, a 22-year-old male dolphin became the fourth animal to die at Dolphinaris. Those dolphins will be transferred back to Dolphin Quest.
The other two dolphins will be moved to "another licensed U.S. facility while Dolphinaris Arizona is evaluated."
It's not clear when those transfers will take place or how long Dolphinaris will be closed.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of our dolphin friends and are grateful to the efforts of our staff and partners during these difficult times -- especially our trainers, who have given so much love, time and energy to caring for our dolphins and educating our guests,” Christian Schaeffer de Leon, the general manager of Dolphinaris Arizona, said in a news alert announcing the closure. “We hope to find a long term solution for the welfare of our dolphins.”
Last Thursday, Dolphinarus Arizona euthanized Kai, who had been sick for two weeks.
Since then, employees at the facility have been getting death threats.
Dolphinaris Arizona opened amid controversy in 2016.
On Sept. 23, 2017, just shy of its first anniversary, the facility lost its first dolphin, Bodie.
Alia died on May 22, 2018, and then Khloe died six months later on Dec. 30.
[SLIDESHOW: The dolphins]