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Hearing Loss and Structural Problems: A Timeline of Failure Part 2

After announcing their purchase of Miami Seaquarium, The Dolphin Company started to publicly make decisions that were in their best interests under the guise of helping Toki. It seems that The Dolphin Company quickly realized, if they hadn’t already, that they had no return on investment when it came to Toki, Lii and Loke. They needed to find a way out and we believe that they did with Friends of Toki.

March 23 2022: Under the terms of the new lease, the well-being of Toki is now in-part, the responsibility of Miami-Dade County. A press conference was held including Mayor Daniela Levine-Cava and The Dolphin Company where they agreed to have “independent” veterinarians evaluate Toki’s health amid rumors that she was deteriorating. This is also when Friends of Toki (formerly Friends of Lolita) were first introduced to provide guidance over what is best for Toki.

Numerous previous Toki caregivers immediately joined together following this press conference and voiced concerns over the intentions of this partnership and formed Truth4Toki to be Toki’s voice.

June 2022, prior to forming Truth4Toki, the same group of people met with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine-Cava regarding our concerns and offered her our expertise and assistance to assess Toki’s care since the Mayor announced the County would have greater oversight and ensure MSQ’s transparency. We also offered recommendations for independent veterinarians to come evaluate her current health. Mayor Levine-Cava said she would contact us for our professional input if things changed and thanked us for our expertise. To this day, we have never heard from her.

Throughout this time, The Dolphin Company continues to fail on its promise to make repairs to Toki’s environment and claimed it was unable to fulfill this promise due to Toki’s declining health. The Board of Unsafe Structures received a letter from Miami Seaquarium’s Veterinarian stating that “no construction can be performed near the whale pool due to health concerns for the whale”.

At a hearing, Mr. Robert Fine, an attorney representing The Dolphin Company, stated that in the last 100 days the Seaquarium property had new owners and The Dolphin Company was eager to bring the property up to structural compliance with the County and Federal regulations in regards to the health of the orca.

August - September 2022: Toki’s trainers make management aware of concerns that Toki is showing signs of hearing loss due to her ignoring “bridges”. A “bridge” is a training term and it is utilized to let the animal know when they did something correct; with Toki it is the sound of a whistle.

Despite bringing up concerns in a meeting with veterinarians, no hearing test was conducted. Management was aware and a call was coordinated between MSQ trainers and Loro Parque to discuss how they trained/worked with Morgan, a deaf killer whale in Tenerife. Following the call, new training techniques were attempted with Toki.

According to one of her primary trainers at the time, “We got different whistles to try, tried to bridge underwater. We tried to implement touch bridges and point bridging. We even discussed light bridges but that went nowhere. We were told that if there was hearing loss from the medications, it would not come back.”

September 2022 - Friends of Toki begin to visit Miami Seaquarium. Shortly after, another hearing was held to discuss the status of repairs to the whale stadium. By this point, the stadium had been permanently closed to the public. The attorney for The Dolphin Company, Mr. Robert Fine, stated that Toki’s health had deteriorated and that no repairs could be made to the whale stadium due to her already fragile health. He also stated that, “The pool part of the structure can be maintained to allow Lolita to continue to reside there permanently”.

The most concerning part of this hearing was the proposal made on behalf of The Dolphin Company, the very same month Friends of Toki started being physically present at Miami Seaquarium. The proposal was: “…if, the Whale Bowl were to no longer be a home to Lolita, then at that time a timeframe of ninety (90) days be requested to demolish the structure.”

It would appear The Dolphin Company had no plans to make repairs to Toki’s environment or the stadium. Almost one year after committing to repairing her home, they continue to stall. The whale stadium has remained closed since late 2022. Toki’s health remained fragile and she wasn’t able to “perform”, which meant no guests would be visiting the park to see her. She continued to get more ill, costing The Dolphin Company more and more. She was started on intravenous antibiotics and Toki became a constant drain to their income.

At some point, a partnership with Friends of Toki was formed. "We were able to negotiate an arrangement, a contract between us to move Toki.” - Pritham Singh, 3/30/23. Did The Dolphin Company agree to this partnership so Friends of Toki would pay their bills? Are they avoiding the cost of repairing a condemned stadium by “relocating” Toki, Lii, and Loke? At what point did Friends of Toki begin to cover all costs related to Toki and the Whale stadium?

October 2022. Toki’s illness started requiring lowering of the pool water on a daily basis to clinically “beach” her for the administration of antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids. During this time, Friends of Toki was present for these treatments and continued to be present in the daily conversations regarding Toki and her health. As their involvement and financial “support “ increased, they were given carte blanche by The Dolphin Company, with leaders reportedly ignoring long standing safety guidelines for the whale stadium and granting them permission for whatever and whenever they chose. As per former trainers, FOT would enter without proper animal care support staff present and on numerous occasions and escort guests into the area which had been closed to the public just a month prior.

In the same month, National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Department of Agriculture visit the park to follow up on their previous inspection. A few weeks later, a report documenting The Dolphin Company’s violations and shortcomings was released by the same agencies. The General Manager of Miami Seaquarium holds a press conference and paints an inaccurate/misleading picture of the inspection results and the lack of proper animal care and management by The Dolphin Company. Once again, transparency is lacking by TDC.

December 2022. Over 14 months later, The Dolphin Company still has not fulfilled their commitment to repair the Whale stadium.

The Dolphin company is now completely off the hook for all financial responsibility of the whale stadium and Toki and Lii. Friends of Toki is covering all expenses including all costs of water quality upgrades, expensive medication and veterinary services. Genius. #truth4toki

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