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Mirage dolphins relocating to Sea World

Updated February 15, 2023 - 3:46 pm

An aquatic triumvirate from Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat have moved to San Diego.

The dolphins Karli, Sofi and Osborne were transported to Sea World on Monday, under an agreement between Mirage and the aquatic theme park. Sea World had loaned the dolphins to the Mirage years ago.

Mirage President Joe Lupo informed employees Tuesday of the dolphins’ status. He said Secret Garden officials are finding homes for the three remaining dolphins.

“Our director is going to be traveling over the next few weeks to different sites, most notably in South Florida,” Lupo said in a phone chat Tuesday. “We don’t have any commitments or any plans for the other three, other than we are going to relocate them.”

The Siegfried & Roy Foundation’s tigers and lions, which have been part of the attraction for some 30 years, remain at the property. Lupo said those animals, too, are being relocated to new homes. No time table has been set.

Lupo’s team has been working with the S&R camp to find suitable habitats for the big cats.

“We’ve told them, long ago, that we were looking to relocate the animals and we’re going to close the habitat,” Lupo said. “It’s been their effort to find new homes for their cats, although both Hard Rock and MGM Resorts have been involved in hearing about locations, we obviously want to ensure that they go to good homes. And so that’s what they’re basically handling that process.”

Sending the dolphins and the cats to multiple facilities has become the accepted protocol for closing the Secret Garden.

“We never really expected to have one venue for the dolphins, and one venue for the cats,” Lupo said. “We expected, as we learned, that there would probably be the need to have multiple facilities which would then take just a longer process. But that’s OK. We have time.”

At the time of Hard Rock Seminole’s purchase of the Mirage from MGM Resorts International in December, a total of seven dolphins remained in the habitat. Duchess, the last remaining original dolphin at the habitat, died in January at age 48.

The popular attraction is being closed to public as the hotel is being turned into Hard Rock Las Vegas later this year. Employees have been given a final tour of the Secret Garden a couple weeks ago.

Lupo said the animals will remain cared for at the resort until they are moved away.

“There are some quite old animals, older than what they are used to living in a natural habitat, because we have veterinarians come weekly to check on them,” Lupo said. “They are being very well taken care of. The dolphins and cats are living quite an extensive life.”

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John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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