MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. - The stars of Arizona's newest wildlife exhibit are almost ready to make their long-awaited public debut in the Phoenix area.
"They're curious. They're learning a new habitat," Grey Stafford said, standing next to a 900,000-gallon salt water pool at Dolphinaris Arizona. "We are introducing them to some new play items, enrichment items, so we're excited and I think the animals are excited too."
Stafford's opinion however is not one shared by several in the Phoenix area. Tom Krepitch is one of hundreds who are actively protesting the dolphins' arrival.
"To put them in a little pool that equates to something like one-ten thousandth of one percent of their natural habitat, we don't think that's appropriate," Kreptich says.
Stafford and his team don't necessarily disagree with that logic; however, they believe this is a little different because these animals have never actually been in the open ocean.
"All the animals were born in human care, which means they've only known the care and training of their trainers," Stafford said. "Part of the responsibility we have is to make sure they have environmental enrichment."
Part of that enrichment includes cooling the water during our hot summer months and heating it in the winter. The debate will continue regardless of what is done to provide a controlled and comfortable environment. The exhibit does not yet have an exact date for open, but the plan is to open sometime in October.
(© 2016 KPNX)