FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Our site selection team is currently evaluating locations in Florida and the Caribbean, focusing on those with excellent seawater quality, a protected seaside site, and appropriate air and water temperatures in a year-round climate.
Our decision to build a sanctuary is rooted in what we believe to be best for the dolphins in our care. Over the past five years, we have studied the issue and explored multiple solutions, ranging from rebuilding our existing tanks in a more naturalistic style to moving the dolphins to other accredited facilities. After careful consideration, we’ve concluded that the best way forward is to create a protected, year-round seaside refuge.
Our vision is to create an outdoor facility where the dolphins will swim in natural sea water, with a vegetated shoreline (mangroves, sea grapes, etc.), in a flexible habitat configuration featuring pools that can be customized to meet individual dolphin needs. An on-site clinic will be fully staffed with marine mammal experts and a full-time veterinarian. The sanctuary will also serve as a center for applied science that advances knowledge and conservation.
Our site selection team is in the process of evaluating several possible locations. Because we are committed to finding the best possible setting, we intend to allow the site selection process to take as long as necessary before beginning the actual physical relocation process for the dolphins. Ultimately, we plan to move the dolphins to the sanctuary by the end of 2020.
We are open to accommodating dolphins from other facilities, though our focus is on the dolphins in our care. We are committed to sharing our work at the sanctuary with others, and to fostering research that will benefit dolphins in the wild as well as those in human care.
Beginning in 2011, the Aquarium enlisted a number of experts and stakeholders, both internally and externally, to evaluate this option. Teams of staff, board members, external researchers, scientists, animal care experts, veterinarians and biologists have been involved in the decision-making process which began with a comprehensive inquiry into the future of the National Aquarium’s physical space, visitor engagement and role in ocean conservation.
No. This decision is exclusively about our colony of dolphins. We have spent the past five years studying options for establishing new ways to care for the dolphins and, because we now know more than ever before about them, their needs and our audiences, the time is right for this initiative.
No. By nurturing a connection to the natural world, zoos and aquariums play an important role in conservation. These institutions inspire visitors to care for and protect precious ecosystems and wildlife, and with a mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, our world-class aquarium is no exception. The decision to create a seaside sanctuary is exclusively about establishing a new way to care for our dolphins. Knowing more than ever before about these animals, their needs and our audiences, the time is right for this initiative.
It is too early to give a precise figure, as the cost will be very specific to the site chosen, reflecting both the price of the land as well as the design and construction expenses particular to that location.
We are seeking philanthropic support to create and sustain the sanctuary. You can help us turn our vision into a reality with a contribution to the National Aquarium.
The safety of the dolphins is our highest priority. A team of experts is already in place to evaluate all associated risks and provide our colony of dolphins with the safest possible transport and transition to the sanctuary. We are allowing four to five years for this process.
The National Aquarium discontinued breeding in 2011 and has no plans for breeding at the sanctuary.
A team is currently evaluating options for re-purposing our space on Pier 4 and will be testing the most promising concepts based on their ability to inspire conservation, delight guests and ensure the Aquarium’s continued success.
We understand that our dolphins are beloved by many of our guests, and while we do not yet know what it will look like, we are committed to maintaining a connection between Aquarium guests and the dolphins. Throughout this transition and beyond, we will continue to offer our guests a dynamic and engaging experience.
Our decision to build a sanctuary is rooted in what we believe to be best for the dolphins in our care. Over the past five years, we have studied the issue and explored multiple solutions, ranging from rebuilding our existing tanks in a more naturalistic style to moving the dolphins to other accredited facilities. After careful consideration, we’ve concluded that the best way forward is to create a protected, year-round seaside refuge.
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The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.