Three more Atlantic bottlenose dolphins were moved late last night into Baltimore's National Aquarium, joining three others that will be displayed in the new $35 million marine mammal pavilion when it opens in December.
The three female dolphins -- Hailey, Schooner and Shiloh -- were purchased from Zoovet, a California-based company that supplies dolphins to aquariums, said Vicki Aversa, an aquarium spokeswoman. The dolphins had been living at the Hawk's Cay marine mammal facility in the Florida Keys.
They were loaded on a plane in Florida about 3 p.m. and flew for five hours suspended on stretchers until they reached Baltimore-Washington International Airport. From there, they were transferred onto a truck and driven to the aquarium, where staffers were preparing to release them into a 1.2 million-gallon display tank late last night.
They will share the tank with the aquarium's three beluga whales and three other dolphins -- a female, Nani, 18, and males Akai, 16, and Nalu, 18 -- that arrived from Texas in August.
Ms. Aversa said the aquarium would decide later whether to add a seventh dolphin, which was captured in Tampa Bay a year ago amid strident protests from animal-rights groups opposed to the display of marine mammals.
The captured dolphin remains at Hawk's Cay in Marathon, Fla., where state officials have refused permission for the animal to be moved to Baltimore.
The new marine mammal pavilion is scheduled to open Dec. 26, giving the dolphins two months to adjust to their new environment before being put on display, Ms. Aversa said.
Aquarium officials hope to breed the dolphins in captivity, she said. One of last night's arrivals has given birth in captivity before.