Free Lolita, the ‘Loneliest Orca in the World’
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Lolita is a Killer Whale who was stolen from her family pod in the wild in 1970, in a horrific attack that left four whales dead and seven captured and sold off. She was sold to the Miami Seaquarium, where she has lived for over forty years. Originally, Lolita had a mating partner there, an Orca called Hugo, who lasted for ten years before succumbing to his depression, which had caused him to engage in dangerous behaviours like repeatedly hitting his head against the walls of his enclosure, which sadly led to his death of a brain aneurysm in 1980.
Lolita now lives in a 20-foot-deep and 35-foot-wide concrete pool, which she shares with a few dolphins who have been known to attack her. Lolita herself is 21-feet-long. How can anybody think this is acceptable? The guidelines state that an enclosure for an animal of her size should be at least 48-feet wide. Her’s is the smallest Orca tank in North America. She has been kept prisoner for over 40 years in the equivalent of a bathtub.
Her pool is too shallow, which has led to her skin cracking and burning due to sun exposure. Her teeth have been drilled. Trainers have failed to create a meaningful relationship with her. And worst of all, her artificial environment is extremely distressing and causing her to exhibit psychosis. Lolita often exhibits signs of distress and frustration in the form of actions toward the trainers that are recognized as precursors to aggressive behavior. The long list in the Miami Seaquarium’s own animal behavior records covers almost every warning sign. Do we really want a repeat of the horrifying case of Dawn Brancheau, the trainer dragged to her death by Tilikum, an Orca driven to psychosis by his own awful conditions at Seaworld, involved in three other trainer deaths?
Marine biologist Ken Balcomb has posited a "Comprehensive Retirement Plan" for Lolita, which could safely and easily ensure her transition from the Miami Seaquarium to her home near Greater Puget Sound. Balcomb's plan was published in 1995, and remains a solid course of freedom for this beautiful creature.
Lolita would be kept in a secluded cove, near where her pod still lives, including a whale in her 80s, believed to be Lolita’s mother. She would be kept in an area much larger than what she is imprisoned in currently, but netted off, allowing her to get used to natural life again on her terms. She would be able to communicate with her pod once again. When ready, she would be released to live out the rest of her days in total freedom.
Please, help free this beautiful animal before it’s too late to undo the damage that we have done. The Miami Seaquarium needs to take responsibility for the poor manner in which they have cared for Lolita. Entertainment founded on cruelty is not entertainment at all. Free the ‘Loneliest Orca in the World,’ before it is too late.
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