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Petition launched to shut down controversial Suns promotion

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Opening of dolphin habitat was protested in October.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns have offered fans the opportunity to “swim with the dolphins” as part of promotion in cooperation with Dolphinaris Arizona, a Scottsdale based company that aims to “amaze, educate, and empower guests, encouraging them to become stewards of the oceans and its inhabitants,” according to its website.

Winners will be treated to an experience that includes:

  • Dolphin Swim Experience for eight (8)
  • Behind-The-Scenes Tour
  • Beach Club access
  • Eight tickets and half-time locker room tour for the 4/7 game against OKC

Not everyone is excited about this promotion, though. A petition titled “Phoenix Suns: Stop Sponsoring Dolphin Abuse!” has surfaced on the website Care2.com.

Here is how the petition, posted by “Julie S.” describes the give-away:

“The Phoenix Suns are sponsoring a contest to win tickets to a game and a half-time locker room tour - along with a swim-with-the-dolphins experience at Dolphinaris Arizona. The team's website features a demeaning video in which dolphins are forced to perform circus tricks for a man dressed as a gorilla as well as ‘give kisses.’ The video presents the dolphins - as well as sexualized women interacting with them - as objects for our entertainment. Outrageously, former NBA star Steven Hunter claims that these interactions ‘support ocean conservation efforts.’”

Ignore for a second that Steven Hunter is described as an NBA star. The petition continues:

“Dolphinaris Arizona has been widely criticized and has prompted numerous protests - for excellent reasons. Arizona has an extreme climate ranging from 115 degree heat to below freezing temperatures. Without adequate protection, dolphins become severely burned in shallow pools. Dust storms are common, as are fungal pathogens in the soil. Because of dolphins' unique physiology, they are particularly vulnerable to respiratory infections, including pneumonia, in this environment.”

The grand opening of Dolphinaris Arizona in October of last year was protested by locals and animal activists.

The petition totaled just under 1,500 supporters with a goal of 2,000 as of 9am PT on Wednesday.