OUR PLEDGE TO OUR DOLPHINS
At Dolphins Plus, we want every guest to enjoy a fun, safe and unforgettable experience. We also want the absolute best for our dolphins – their heath and happiness is paramount to each and every member of our team. Certainly, we proudly adhere to the high standards set forth by state and federal guidelines in the keeping and care of our animals. However, far more goes into our commitment than regulations. We love our dolphins, which is why we go above and beyond to create a home for them in the Florida Keys that’s natural, unspoiled and beautifully wild. In this environment, we build meaningful relationships based on mutual trust and understanding. It’s a real connection you will see and feel the moment your interaction begins. For now, here’s a little more information about Dolphins Plus and our expert trainers and staff. We hope to introduce you to some new friends and create lifelong memories very soon.
The Dolphins Plus training program provides a safe and enriching environment for interactions between our guests and our animals, and it all begins with our trainers. Each undergoes a thorough education and training program to ensure we achieve the Gold Standard in every area – training, research, conservation and education. In fact, every new staff member must complete a 3-6 month preceptorship, directly under the tutelage of our Training Director, in order to gain hands-on experience with our dolphins. Then, he or she must demonstrate an extreme level of proficiency working with our dolphins over an extended period and pass an extensive written exam before earning the position of Trainer. All in all, it can take more than a year and only those with an unwavering commitment make the grade.
Our training program is based on the science of behavior modification – a science that’s 100% dependent on forging deeply personal relationships with our dolphins. These are highly intelligent mammals and they will only work with those they trust and appreciate. Our programs are built around the latest behavior modification techniques and learning principles, and we actively participating in sharing information with groups like the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA) to continue providing an enriching and nurturing environment for our marine mammals.
Training also allows us to observe, assess, and care for each animal’s physical and emotional health. It assists our staff in providing safe and expedient methods for preventive clinical medical procedures, integrates public display within husbandry regimes, and facilitates education, research, and conservation objectives.
Animal Health and Safety
The care and wellbeing of our dolphins is a personal passion for every trainer and staff member at Dolphins Plus. Our full-time veterinary team constantly monitors the heath of each and every animal in our care. They work right here on site so if there is ever the slightest issue, our dolphins receive immediate treatment.
Additionally, every member of our staff is educated in emergency procedures; maintaining a safe and healthy aquatic environment; and how to identify animals that might be feeling even the slightest amount of stress or discomfort. Our goal is to create a healthy, dignified and positive home for our dolphins. One with which they feel deeply connected because it is built around their happiness and welfare.
The interactions we provide our guests would not be possible in any other type environment. We show them the intelligence and curiosity of these amazing mammals; were help foster a greater appreciation for our oceans and their creatures; and we provide the experience of a lifetime because we’ve created a home where our dolphins thrive.
To this end, every Dolphins Plus Manager, Trainer, Veterinarian, and staff member commit to the following:
- Understand their moral obligation to the associates, employees, guests, and animals for which they work.
- Display their highest integrity and skilled judgment at all times.
- Use their professional skills in the best interest of their associates, employees, guests, and animals.
- Use only legal and ethical means when seeking to influence government, laws and regulations.
- Actively promote wildlife conservation, education, research and animal welfare.
- Maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct and behavior.
- Cooperate with other qualified professionals and institutions in the development of breeding programs, the advancement of science, and the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
- Share information, which will be mutually beneficial, to like-minded institutions, focused on the protection and preservation of marine life.
- Actively assist and mentor young professionals who wish to develop or advance their skills and responsibilities in the marine mammal field.
- Provide skills, knowledge, and assistance in developing education programs for students.
- Promote and assist in the publication of significant zoological events or research.
- Seek opportunities to improve the communities in which they live.
- Endeavor at all times to improve the lives of animals.
As part of our ongoing mission to promote conservation and create active young stewards of our oceans, Dolphins Plus reaches out to the community on a regular basis. In fact, our Education Team brings thousands of students into the fascinating world of marine science each year through summer camps, pro bono and outreach activities, custom graduate and undergraduate programs, and partnerships with education groups internationally.
We believe one of the greatest benefits our facility offers is the chance to educate and inspire young people by providing them with uniquely up-close and interactive experiences. Whether it’s elementary school or graduate school, at Dolphins Plus, we accept a profound responsibility to make a difference for our oceans and its amazing creatures.
We even include our own Dolphins Plus family in our education efforts. You’ll find our library loaded with the latest research articles and scientific journals regarding marine mammals, ocean ecology, environmental conservation, and much more. We also encourage our staff members to further their own education in the marine sciences, and we openly exchange the latest scientific information we come upon with other leaders in marine science, animal behavior and the environmental conservation.
We really don’t like calling it a facility. Because it’s a home. We’ve gone to tremendous lengths to ensure our dolphins enjoy a wild and natural lagoon environment. As part of the ocean, it ebbs and flows with the tides and is surrounded by lush mangroves. This is a truly natural environment – water temperature fluctuates with the seasons; some days are clearer than others; it enjoys all the ups and downs of any saltwater lagoon. Even so, we carefully monitor our lagoon and pools, regularly testing the water to ensure proper circulation and cleanliness. You’ll also notice our home is tucked away on Tarpon Basin, a remote section of Florida Bay. This ensures our Dolphins enjoy a peaceful home. We’re proud of the home we’ve created at Dolphins Plus. We believe it represents our firm commitment to the marine mammals in our care, and our desire to bring guests a truly authentic and natural encounter.
At Dolphins Plus, we believe by giving back we get a whole lot in return. And that means so do our dolphins. We proudly support charitable causes through fundraising efforts and are involved in numerous educational and outreach programs, particularly with young people.
You might find us delivering a guest lecture at a local grade school; or helping a science class at a high school; or even participating in a career fair at a local college. We’re currently in the process of expanding our reach outside the local area through the use of exciting new technologies, such as Skype.
When it comes to marine mammal protection, Dolphins Plus is proudly on the front lines. We are actively involved in a number of marine mammal research and ocean conservation efforts. We also fund and operate our own Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder – a team that’s on call 24/7/365 to assist with marine mammal emergencies. This team of skilled veterinarians and highly trained staffers has rescued and saved hundreds of dolphins, whales and assisted Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (www.myFWC.com) with manatees. Whether it’s an unexplained mass beaching, a dolphin calf entangled in fishing line, an injured or out of habitat/at risk marine mammal, or any other critical situation, our team of first responders will be there doing everything possible to preserve the lives of the marine mammals we care so deeply about.
At Dolphins Plus, we consistently and fervently work on behalf of marine mammals. However, our most effective and important conservation effort is bringing people closer to these amazing mammals. You might say that we see the big picture one guest at a time. The more we move and inspire our guests with unforgettable experiences, the greater their appreciation for our oceans and its amazing creatures will become.