Mirage’s Dolphin and Big Cat exhibits are permanently closed

Posted: Nov 22, 2022, 6:43 p.m.

Last updated: November 23, 2022, at 04:02 am.

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat are closing permanently. The decision to close the attraction and relocate the dolphins and big cats was announced Tuesday in a joint memo to all Mirage employees from Interim Mirage President Franz Callao and Hard Rock Las Vegas President Joe Lupo.

Ownership of the property is currently passing from MGM Resorts to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, owner of the Hard Rock International brand, which bought it for $1.1 billion in a deal that closed this year.

Dolphin Mirage
Residents of Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat will need to find new homes. (photo: MGM Mirage)

“The Hard Rock leadership team has spent several months studying options and discussing the facility openly with the leadership teams of both Mirage Resorts and MGM,” the joint memo reads. “As Hard Rock contemplated their vision of The Mirage post-closing, the team decided the best course of action was to cool off and, eventually, permanently shut down The Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.”

According to the memo, all the animals — dolphins, white tigers, white lions and cheetahs — will be placed in the care of “well-trained and highly respected veterinary professionals and experts in the field of animal welfare,” though specific details of those plans were not disclosed.

The secret garden, which opened in 1990, has been closed since the death of the K2 dolphin on September 25th. This was the third death of Mirage’s dolphins in 2022 alone. The closure was announced temporarily, pending a review of the in-house veterinary care, water quality, and filtration system by the San Diego-based National Marine Mammal Foundation. Now, this closure can be permanent.

“We are close to completing that review but have not yet determined when or in what capacity the facility will reopen,” said a note on Tuesday.

Cheers from Beta

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) responded to the news with a statement from Brittany Pete, PETA’s general counsel for captive animal law enforcement.

“Big cats belong in the jungle, not behind bars in a casino sideshow, and the desert is no place for dolphins,” Pete said in the statement. “PETA is encouraging Hard Rock to usher in its new animal-free era by finding reputable new homes for the big cats and working to move the dolphins to a coastal sanctuary where they can live a more natural life in spacious habitats, away from the lights and noise of the strip.”

Bottlenose dolphins typically live 40 to 60 years in the wild, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. However, the average captive survival time for all bottlenose dolphins that live for more than a year is 12 years, 9 months, and 8 days.

According to The Mirage, 14 dolphins have died of a variety of causes and at a range of ages since the attraction opened in 1990. Three were at least 25 years old, and three were minors. But animal rights activists count 16 deaths.

More Mirage changes

The hotel is still called The Mirage, and could last up to two more years, before it becomes the second Hard Rock Resort in Las Vegas. (The first reopened as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas last year.) In addition to its animal attraction, Hard Rock International previously announced plans to end its popular free volcano show at The Mirage along the Las Vegas Strip. As part of a massive renovation, a hotel tower shaped like a guitar will be built where the volcano—installed by Mirage builder Steve Wynn when the resort opened in 1989—now stands.

What will happen to Cirque du Soleil-Beatles productions? the love is the next big question. New Mirage owners have committed to the offer through the end of 2023 only. the love This was a prominent feature of The Mirage, and images of the Beatles feature the resort’s logo on the building.

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