Florida Theme Park Puts Down Animal Before It Can Be Confiscated by the Government

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Tokitae performing as Lolita at Miami Seaquarium

Credit: Leonardo DaSilva via Flickr

An animal has been put down at one of Florida’s most controversial theme parks – just two months after the U.S. government issued a notice of confiscation.

Of all the reasons for a theme park to be controversial, the use of animals for entertainment tends to be up there with the worst. The likes of SeaWorld and other marine theme parks have long been lambasted by theme park fans and animal rights activists alike for capturing, breeding, and keeping animals such as killer whales in captivity.

Dolphins at Miami Seaquarium
Credit: Leonardo Dasilva via Flickr

Related: Dolphin Committed Suicide at Florida Theme Park, Report Claims

Miami Seaquarium has received the most criticism as of late. The Florida theme park has repeatedly been criticized for the conditions in which it keeps its animals. Until August 2023, it was home to the world’s second-oldest orca in captivity, Lolita (AKA Tokitae), who spent decades living alone in an infamously small tank.

Several inspections from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have resulted in damning reports calling out Miami Seaquarium for horrifying details such as a dolphin found living with a two-inch nail in its throat, and a sea lion with sever eye pain who was denied surgery.

Man riding dolphins at Miami Seaquarium
Credit: Miami Seaquarium

These findings were so frequent that in January USDA made the unprecedented move to call for the confiscation of four animals. However, it’s just been revealed that one of these animals was euthanized by the park in March – without notifying local authorities.

A spokesperson for the Office of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces, confirmed to CBS News yesterday (April 11) that Bud the sea lion was euthanized on March 28. Miami-Dade County was also informed of the fact a week after the sea lion died.

Sea lion jumps through hoop
Credit: Kenneth Cole Schneider via Flickr

Related: Trainers Accuse Theme Park of Killing Orca, Updates Given

In a public statement, Miami-Dade County revealed that it had conducted an onsite inspection on March 27 and grew concerned about Bud’s “lethargic condition.” It subsequently reached out for an update on Bud’s condition before he was put down.

“It is heartbreaking to learn the death of another animal at the Seaquarium,” Miami-Dade County said.

According to the animal rights advocacy group Our Honor, its investigation into Bud’s death led to the discovery that the sea lion was potentially suffering from kidney disease. Court documents revealed that a former Seaquarium veterinarian had ordered a CT scan but there was a delay in diagnostics.

Last month, Miami Seaquarium received its eviction notice from Miami-Dade County over claims that it has repeatedly violated the terms of its lease by failing to provide satisfactory care for its animals. This would force the park’s total closure on April 21, 2024.

We would like to share another letter sent to Miami Dade County COO, Jimmy Morales, today.

The park has since issued a letter addressed to Miami Dade County COO Jimmy Morales, in which it claims the facility is taking “corrective actions” to ensure it complies with its lease – primarily by maintaining the health and safety of its animals, and improving the park’s facilities – in order to avoid closure.

Have you ever visited Miami Seaquarium? Let us know in the comments!

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