Minnesota Zoo exhibit raises dolphin captivity questions
Source: Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
APPLE VALLEY, Minn. When a young dolphin named Taijah died on Feb.6, officials at the Minnesota Zoo knew they had a problem on their hands.
Dolphins are one of the most popular attractions at the zoo, and Taijah was the sixth in the collection to die in as many years.
Staff emails show zoo officials were worried about bad publicity in the days and weeks following the death. Those fears were warranted, as news about Taijah's death quickly spread throughout the world.
"A dolphin dies in Minnesota, and people in Singapore know about it five minutes later," Zoo Director Lee Ehmke said in an interview.
The string of dolphin deaths at the zoo has become a flashpoint for a broader debate about keeping dolphins in captivity. Zoo officials were worried about the fatalities and the public heat surrounding them, according to emails and other documents MPR News obtained through the state Data Practices Act.
Zoo officials, however, say the deaths had nothing to do with their decision to close the exhibit this fall, which they said largely has to do with the scarcity of dolphins.
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