Two former Six Flags Discovery Kingdom employees have filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Vallejo park.
Michael and Holley Muraco in the lawsuit claim they were fired after raising concerns over dangerous conditions for the animals at the park, which in some cases resulted in death.
Jayme Walker, an attorney representing the former employees, released the following statement late Thursday:
"Mike and Dr. Holley Muraco have worked in zoo and aquarium community for a combined 45 years. They have dedicated their lives and careers to taking care of animals, and wherever they work, they never compromise on the health and well-being of the animals. They fully support zoos and aquariums and believe that zoos and aquariums play a critical role in wildlife education, research and conservation."
Michael Muraco previously served as the park's director of animal care. He informed the U.S. Department of Agriculture the park had been out of compliance in maintaining water quality in the dolphin pools for years, which resulted in the respiratory illnesses in adult dolphins and the deaths of two baby dolphins, according to the lawsuit.
A USDA inspection report in May 2014 said "these two dolphin calf deaths, and the chronic problems in other dolphins with respiratory problems, eye problems and fungal infections, are related to the water quality issues in the system used throughout the facility."
Grassroots organization Advocates for the Animals at Six Flags is planning a protest at the park on Saturday in response to the claims in the lawsuit.
"The lawsuit just confirms what we know is going on with abuse of animals at Six Flags," said Deniz Bolbol with Advocates for the Animals at Six Flags. "This is the tip of the iceberg. Every time you give money to Six Flags you're paying them to abuse and deprive animals of their natural lives," Bolbol said.
Six Flags on Friday released the following statement: "We provide excellent care for all of our animals. The lawsuit is without merit and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves."