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Miami Seaquarium sues Miami-Dade in effort to stave off eviction

The entrance sign at the Miami Seaquarium on Virginia Key, Fla. , March 26, 2024
KBI Photo
Tony Winton
The entrance sign at the Miami Seaquarium on Virginia Key, Fla. , March 26, 2024

Miami Seaquarium, a fixture on Virginia Key since 1955, filed a lawsuit Friday against Miami-Dade County, asking a federal judge to block eviction. The Dolphin Company, the current owner of the park, had been told to hand over the premises on Sunday.

“It will put the brakes on the eviction proceedings that the county appears to be headed towards,” said Miami federal litigator David Weinstein.

READ MORE: Miami Seaquarium faces eviction over animal welfare

MS Leisure Corp., the owner of The Dolphin Company, is seeking a temporary restraining order from U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Becerra, who will either handle the matter herself or refer it to her magistrate.

The lawsuit comes after another animal at the park died last month. Bud, a sea lion, was euthanized. Sushi, another sea lion; Lolita, an orca whale; and Sundance, a bottlenose dolphin have died since August.

A USDA inspection report in January found that Sushi had lost 52 pounds in four months after becoming ill. Another dolphin had multiple rib fractures and another suffered from tooth erosion and eye issues. The federal inspector also noted that there was a lone veterinarian to care for Seaquarium’s 42 marine mammals, 47 birds and its numerous aquarium creatures.

Seaquarium’s veterinarian resigned in February and Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on March 7 she would move aheadwith evicting The Dolphin Co. from the premises and would not seek another operator for the marine park.

This story was originally published in the Key Biscayne Independent, a WLRN News partner.

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