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Miami Seaquarium loses key certification for lease, but vows to stay open

Lolita, a beloved orca whale kept at the Miami Seaquarium for more than a half-century, died in August 2023 as she was being prepared to be moved. (Nuri Vallbona/Miami Herald)
Lolita, a beloved orca whale kept at the Miami Seaquarium for more than a half-century, died in August 2023 as she was being prepared to be moved. (Nuri Vallbona/Miami Herald)
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A sea lion going blind from cataracts, rusty bird cages, mold in the penguin house, ants in a vitamin cabinet, one dolphin swallowing a nail, another jumping a barrier between pools, and flamingos wading in dirty water were among the problems cited at Miami Seaquarium in an inspection report released Wednesday and .

Seaquarium, the 55-year-old Virginia Key marine park, formerly home of the late Lolita the killer whale, also lost its accreditation from American Humane’s animal welfare certification program, which leaves it in violation of its lease with Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced plans to terminate Seaquarium’s lease last month. Seaquarium, run by the Mexico-based Dolphin Company, issued a rebuttal two days later, and released a statement Thursday saying it “remains committed to upholding the highest standards of animal welfare and providing a safe and enriching environment for our resident animals.

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