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Protesters rally to improve care for Mirage dolphins with skin disease

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Protesters rally to improve care for Mirage dolphins with skin disease

By Jacqueline Heinrich. CREATED Aug 31, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- About 40 people gathered outside The Mirage on Sunday, pressuring hotel officials to improve conditions for dolphins kept in captivity that may be suffering from the pox virus.

Their biggest concern: No shade for the mammals in the more than 100 degree desert sun. 

"It's a simple structure. It doesn't cost very much money to the MGM. Get it up," said Cecilia Labar of Free The Mojave Dolphins.

The group said those captive mammals are suffering from the pox virus, a condition which presents with skin lesions. According to the National Institute of Health, dolphins get pox virus from stress, environmental conditions, and general health problems.

"This is the desert. They're thousands of miles away from their natural environment and a wild dolphin would never spend this much time on the surface waiting for food and doing tricks for the public," said Labar. "In the wild dolphins can dive deep down into the waters to get away from the sun."

MGM officials told Action News, "Some of the dolphins from time to time show signs of a benign skin condition. All receive the best veterinary care."

These animal advocates are asking for more: At a minimum, shade for these animals.

The Animal Welfare Act requires marine mammals receive adequate protection from high and low temperatures. Free The Mojave Dolphins said The Mirage is in violation, and until they see change they'll continue pressuring the hotel and lobbying the public for support.

MGM officials also told Action News,"We uphold the highest standards in the conservation and preservation of marine mammals. Our employees are dedicated to their welfare."