Lolita, an Orca from L-Pod part of the Southern Resident Community residing in Puget Sound, was separated from her mother and family when she was captured in 1970. During the capture, 7 other Orcas were taken, but 5 drowned. Of the 7 captured, Lolita is the only survivor today, all of her co-captives died prematurely, in captivity. Since the capture Lolita has lived in the Miami Seaquarium. This year marks the 40th anniversary of her confinement. To show Miami Seaquarium and other marine mammal parks that Orcas do not belong in captivity, on May 15th over 42 different cities and countries have signed up to be part of the international protest.
The Miami Seaquarium opened in 1955 and was home to the "Flipper” TV series and films. Originally designed before an understanding of dolphin captivity existed, and certainly never intended to house two, or even a single Orca. Time has passed on the Seaquarium and the current owner no longer has neither the money nor the inspiration to modernize the dilapidated facility. For the past 40 years Lolita has been kept in a tank that is illegal by the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) standards for size requirements. Lolita is approximately 21 feet long and 7,000 pounds. Her tank is 20 feet deep at the deepest point and a mere 12 feet deep around the edges. The pool is only 35 feet wide. The Seaquarium continues to house animals in inadequate conditions and Lolita, is the poster child for this sad condition.
Lolita's mother is still alive and the Matriarch of L -Pod. Lolita was originally acquired by the Seaquarium to be a companion for a solitary male Orca named Hugo who was captured in 1968, but Hugo died in 1980, after only 12 years of captivity, from self inflicted injuries cause by hitting his head against the side of the tank. Lolita has now spent the last 30 years in Solitary confinement. Her only social companions are a few captive dolphins that share her tank, and of course her human trainers. Remarkably, the tank that she once inhabited with Hugo is even too small for her alone. The USDA isnaware of that Miami Seaquarium does not meet the basic legal requirements for Orca enclosures and has done nothing, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations for the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of marine mammals (9 C.F.R. Section 3.104 - Space Requirements) state that the primary enclosure for a killer whale must have a minimum horizontal dimension (MHD) of no less than 48 feet. Lolita’s tank is only 35 feet across. The Miami Seaquarium is considered to be one of the most dilapidated aquatic parks in the world. It is constantly in need of repairs. Additionally, as per the Marine Mammal Inventory Report, the Seaquarium has a substantial death rate for their animals. They cannot get a permit to build a larger enclosure, and most likely wouldn't do so anyway due to the capital cost. Yet each day Lolita entertains the crowds and the Seaqurium owner Arthur Hertz counts the profits." />
An International Day of Protest in support of Lolita will be held in 42 cities around the world on Saturday the 15 of May 2010, with a major event in Miami as well as on Facebook. The cornerstone protest will take place in front of the Miami Seaquarium between 12:00 and 2:00pm, 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami. What are protesters asking for? Retiring Loita to a sea pen in her native Puget Sound so she would no longer be a slave to entertainment, and the chances of her longevity would increases substantially. There has been a feasible plan in place for years. But, the Miami Seaquarium refuses to give up Lolita. The equivalent of her life insurance policy of $1,000,000 was once raised to buy Lolita from the Seaquarium to put the plan into action, but the owner refused the offer. A Grassroots movement to retire Lolita, and government intervention based on Animal rights issues, are Lolita's only hope. With recent events such as the tragic death of the Seaworld trainer, the congressional hearing, and the Oscar winning film The Cove, the issues of marine mammal captivity, and particularly Orca captivity, have risen to the top as issues highlighting how we treat the environment around us.