A Miami aquarium is being accused of abusing nine performing dolphins in a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released to the public on Friday.
Federal authorities accuse employees of the Miami Seaquarium of seriously cutting back on the animals’ diets in hopes of getting them to perform better in shows for live audiences, according to WPLG.
A Department of Agriculture Inspection Report outlines emaciated animals lashing out aggressively after their fish diets were cut in half or even two thirds by Seaquarium staff.
The Seaquarium’s attending veterinarian documented visible and severe weight loss on the part of the dolphins, some of whom lost as much as 63 and 104 pounds.
After an animal training director implemented the unsafe cuts to the dolphins’ diets this spring, the animals began to behave in an unpredictable manner.
The diet cut resulted in “an increase in frequency of abnormal behaviors such as regurgitation, mouthing, refusing control etc. that were not communicated in a timely manner to the Attending Veterinarian,” according to the Department of Agriculture.
The starvation diet didn’t lead to compliant dolphins in performances, and the sea creatures even began lashing out at members of the public.
The Department of Agriculture describes several of the dolphins routinely “mouthing” unsuspecting visitors who entered close proximity to their tank.
The aquarium in question came under new ownership earlier this year.
The Dolphin Company purchased the facility in March, according to WPLG.
The Department of Agriculture’s report was provided to the Miami Seaquarium in July and only became public last week, according to WPLG.
The facility still has its dolphins, but the shocking pattern of abuse alleged in the USDA’s report is giving local authorities doubts about The Dolphin Company.
“I am deeply disturbed by the findings of the USDA report,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine Cava said of the findings in a Friday statement, according to WPLG.
“Under the terms of the lease, the Dolphin Company is obligated to comply with federal regulations including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Animal Welfare Act, and we will be swiftly reviewing the report to determine whether the Dolphin Company is in violation of the lease.”
Dolphins are considered among the most intelligent and social creatures in the animal kingdom.
The sea mammals are capable of using teamwork and basic tools in order to obtain food and accomplish tasks, according to National Geographic.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.