VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (WSVN) - The Miami Herald reported that the Miami Seaquarium lost its accreditation from the American Humane’s animal welfare certification program, violating its lease with Miami-Dade County.

A recent inspection report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture exposed alarming concerns about animal treatment at the 55-year-old marine park. The report revealed issues that included a sea lion experiencing blindness from cataracts, rusty bird cages, mold in the penguin house, ants in a vitamin cabinet, a dolphin ingesting a nail and another jumping from a pool barrier. Additionally, flamingos were found wading in dirty water.

In 2023, the seaquarium’s website listed several accreditations, which included the American Humane Conservation, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and IMATA Animal Trainer Development Program.

The loss of the seaquarium’s accreditation leaves it in violation of its lease with Miami-Dade County, but they vowed to stay open. The park’s only remaining certification, from the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, falls short of the lease requirements, which mandate certifications from both AMMPA and American Humane.

7News reached out to the American Humane and IMATA that appeared to have dropped their support for the seaquarium. As of late Friday afternoon, they have not responded back.

This latest development comes after a controversial year for the seaquarium. Lolita, the killer whale who lived at the park for more than 50 years, died back in August at age 57. Several animals have since been transferred to other facilities.

In addition, a dolphin named Sundance died from stomach pain while in captivity. The park has since faced several critical reports, including a Jan. 9 report from the USDA citing a “lack of appropriate veterinary care for 25 animals.”

Susan Hargreaves, the founder of the charity Animal Hero Kids, spoke with 7News on Friday afternoon.

“I feel we’re in the final days of the Miami Seaquarium,” she said. “These are all nails in the coffin of the Miami Seaquarium.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who previously announced plans to terminate the Seaquarium’s lease, expressed concerns after the reports were made public.

“It is with profound frustration that I must convey the county’s deep-seated concerns regarding the quality of care provided to the animals at the seaquarium,” she said.

Hargreaves, a veteran South Florida animal rights activist and educator, has been protesting the seaquarium since 1986. She said she has a possible solution.

“Turn it into Veganza Animal Heroes theme park, where we teach about being kind to animals, being kind to the planet,” she said.

The seaquarium has yet to release a formal statement in response to these allegations and has not responded to 7News’ inquiry on the recent developments.

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