Mirage’s Original Bottlenose Dolphin, ‘Duchess’, Dies at 48

Posted on: January 27, 2023, 09:37h. 

Last updated on: January 28, 2023, 10:39h.

Duchess, one of the original bottlenose dolphins at the Mirage, has died. She is the fourth dolphin to die at the Mirage since last year.

An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin at the Mirage
An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin at the Mirage, pictured above. One of the original dolphins at the attraction has died. (Image: Getty Images/Ethan Miller)

Duchess was first placed in the Las Vegas Strip casino’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat in 1990. Hard Rock International on Wednesday confirmed the dolphin’s passing. Details on her medical condition were not announced.

According to a statement from Mirage President Joe Lupo, Duchess was one of the five original dolphins that opened the Habitat in 1990.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Mirage animal care team and the veterinary experts who worked tirelessly to ensure Duchess was loved, received the highest-quality care, and was as comfortable as possible,” Lupo was quoted by KVVU, a local TV station.

Lupo recalled how Duchess “brought an unmeasurable amount of joy and happiness to the countless visitors and The Mirage family while at the Dolphin Habitat.”

Secret Garden Permanently Closed

In November, it was announced that Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat was permanently closing. The closure came as ownership of the property went from MGM Resorts International to the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The tribe owns the Hard Rock International brand. The gaming property is undergoing extensive renovations between now and 2025.

The property announced last year the attraction’s dolphins, white tigers, white lions, and leopards were to be cared for by “well-trained, highly respected animal care professionals and veterinary experts.”

The Secret Garden temporarily closed after the September death of one of the other dolphins, K2, who was 11 years old. The cause of death was suspected respiratory illness.

Two other dolphins at the attraction died earlier last year. One had a respiratory illness, and the other had a gastrointestinal disorder.

Since it first opened in 1990, 14 dolphins have died from various causes and at different ages at the popular Mirage attraction. Animal rights activists claim the number of dolphins that died at the Mirage was actually higher.

Animal Rights Activists’ Concerns

News about September’s closure was applauded by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“Big cats belong in the jungle, not behind bars in a casino sideshow, and a desert is no place for a dolphin,” Brittany Peet, general counsel for captive animal law enforcement for the PETA foundation, said in a statement.

PETA is encouraging Hard Rock to usher in its new animal-free era by finding reputable new homes for the big cats and working to get the dolphins to a seaside sanctuary where they could have more natural lives in spacious habitats, far from the lights and noise of the Strip,” last year’s statement said.

A bottlenose dolphin typically lives about 28 or 29 years, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, citing data from the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. Other data suggest they may have life expectancies of between 40 and 60 years.