The bottlenose dolphin Duchess died at age 48 at the Siegfried & Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage hotel in Las Vegas.
Duchess is the 4th dolphin at The Mirage to die in less than a year, according to the marine protection organization Dolphin Project. In total, 17 dolphins have died at the tourist attraction in the United States.
The dolphin habitat at the hotel opened in 1990, and “given The Mirage has only been open for 30 years, most of the dolphins should still be alive. Certainly the ones who were born there should still be alive,” marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose told the Nevada Current.
“If you’re protecting them from predators and food shortages and all the things that threaten them out in the wild, they should live longer than they do in the wild,” she added.
According to data from the captive dolphin inventory CetaBase, Duchess was a female wild dolphin who was caught in 1981 in the Gulf of Mexico and brought to Quinlan Marine Attractions. After that, Duchess was transported back and forth from Dolphin Connection in Florida to Milwaukee County Zoo. In 1990, she was transported to The Mirage.
Duchess had six children at The Mirage hotel: Bugsy who died in 1997, Squirt who died in 2006, Sgt. Pepper who died in 2009, and Maverick and K2 who both died in 2022. Only her daughter Huf-n-Puf is still alive.
In November 2022, the hotel announced it would permanently close its Siegfried & Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. In a statement, it said that all the animals – dolphins, tigers, lions, and leopards – would be placed in the care of “well-trained, highly respected animal care professionals and veterinary experts.”
The plan’s specifics were not released; since then, Duchess passed away at the hotel. Dolphin Project called for the immediate retirement of the remaining dolphins and to transfer them to a sanctuary.