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Miami Seaquarium owner files federal lawsuit against Miami-Dade County

Miami Seaquarium owner files federal lawsuit against Miami-Dade County
Miami Seaquarium owner files federal lawsuit against Miami-Dade County 02:08

MIAMI - Two days before the order to vacate the Virginia Key premises, the owner of the Miami Seaquarium announced Friday the filing of a federal lawsuit against Miami-Dade County. 

Eduardo Albor, CEO of The Dolphin Company issued the following statement:

"As stewards of the Miami Seaquarium, part of The Dolphin Company's global family of parks, we are deeply committed to the more than 2,500 staff members that are responsible for the welfare of our marine inhabitants and the educational mission we proudly deliver in the communities we serve.

Filing this lawsuit against Miami-Dade County is a step we take with heavy hearts but clear minds, driven by our duty to protect our legacy and ensure our ability to continue making positive impacts on marine conservation.

Miami Seaquarium owner files federal lawsuit against Miami-Dade County 02:50

We stand firm in our belief that with fair treatment and support from Miami-Dade County, we can overcome
the current challenges and emerge stronger, for the benefit of our community, our staff, and the animals we are dedicated to protecting, just like we do in all our parks."

Here's what the lawsuit alleges: 

1. Unfair Regulatory Practices: The lawsuit alleges that Miami-Dade County has imposed regulations that unfairly target the operations of the Miami Seaquarium, hindering our ability to deliver on our mission of conservation and education for our community

2. Breach of Agreement: Miami-Dade County is accused of failing to honor agreements, affecting the Seaquarium's operational capabilities and future development plans, as managed by The Dolphin

3. Restrictive Zoning and Land Use Policies: The complaint outlines how restrictive zoning and land use
policies have been discriminatorily applied against the Seaquarium, unfairly limiting our efforts for
improvement and growth.

4. Economic Damages: The Dolphin Company seeks compensation for the economic damages incurred due to the county's actions, which have adversely affected the financial stability and expansion potential of the Miami Seaquarium.

5. Reputational Harm: The lawsuit includes allegations of actions taken by Miami-Dade County that have unjustly harmed the reputation of the Miami Seaquarium and staff members, under the stewardship of The Dolphin Company, affecting our standing in the community and conservation circles.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said, "We have notified the Seaquarium that April 21st is the date they're expected to leave the premises," she said. She continued, "We gave them the notice the 21st is the date. We certainly would pursue legal action but we obviously have to take into consideration the well-being of the animals so there will be an orderly process, hopefully with the support of the Seaquarium Management," the mayor said.

Jared Goodman is the attorney for PETA. "I think the lawsuit is littered with misstatements of both the law and the facts," he said.

For years animal rights groups have been trying to get the Seaquarium shut down.

"The Seaquarium needs to close immediately. Because the animals are suffering in those decrepit tanks. And I have every expectation, or have had every expectation that they would not go quietly," Goodman said.

Crystal Heath is a veterinarian with a non-profit. She has advocated for the animal and says she's worried animals are sick and the water they swim in isn't healthy. 

"I'm worried animals will die before they step in and help," she said. 

Late Friday, Miami-Dade County issued a statement, which in part reads:

"It is our hope that the Dolphin Company is taking the necessary steps to vacate the premises... but if they fail to do so, we will move forward with the eviction process."

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