Lolita's Release Plan - The Only One That Makes Sense

Orca ConservancyThere are a number of different organizations that over the years have devised rehabilitation and release plans for Lolita (TokiTae). Some of these plans from the outside look promising, but are they really?

It's easy to create a document, call it a plan, and get everyone on board to endorse and support it. This was the case with one organization which will go unnamed. They collected donations for decades from caring and compassionate people from around the world. They also created a seemingly well thought out release plan. Many organizations and animal advocates supported and promoted this plan, that is until recently.

Miami Seaquarium in Hot Water for Endangering Orca Trainers

Posted on Animal Legal Defense Fund November 7, 2013

Captivity Industry on Trial as ALDF Urges Protective Barriers for All U.S. Marine Theme Parks

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Southern resident orca. (CC Miles Ritter)

MIAMI—Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a formal letter to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), seeking enforcement of safety standards to protect workers from captive orcas at the Miami Seaquarium. OSHA currently relies upon the “general duty clause” of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act (“the Act”) to protect orca trainers from injury and death, and ALDF’s letter argues that this clause should apply to every orca exhibitor in the marine display industry, from SeaWorld to the Miami Seaquarium. Today’s letter also requests greater investigation of industry safety violations as well as full enforcement of the Act’s general duty clause which OSHA interprets to require distance between employees and captive orcas on workplace premises during performances.

ALDF, PETA Petition Floats New Strategy to Free Lolita

January 23rd, 2013

Feds Must Protect Orca Under Endangered Species Act or Supply a Legal Reason for Exclusion, Groups Say

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Shakira Croce, PETA

lolitaAccording to the settlement agreement reached after the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), PETA, the Orca Network, and four individuals filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding the orca Lolita's unlawful exclusion from the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the agency must now either include Lolita in the ESA listing or supply a legal reason to exclude her. PETA and ALDF submitted a petition today to the NMFS calling for Lolita to be listed as endangered, along with her free-living family, the Pacific Northwest’s Southern Resident orcas. Lolita has been confined to the smallest orca tank in North America at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 40 years and has been without a companion since 1980, when her tank mate, Hugo, reportedly died of a brain aneurysm after slamming his head into the side of their concrete tank.

"By excluding Lolita from the endangered listing, the government allows the Seaquarium to keep Lolita isolated in a tiny barren tank and force her to perform with no protection from the sun—all of which would violate the ESA's protection against 'harm' and 'harassment,'" says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders.

"ALDF and PETA are calling on the government to extend the ESA's minimal protections to Lolita and will continue to push for her return to the ocean and her family—where she belongs," says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells.

Southern Resident orcas were critically depleted in the 1960s and '70s, when dozens of them—including Lolita—were captured for public display. Captive members of a species are, by default, to be included in an endangered listing, and NMFS is prohibited from considering commercial interests—such as the Seaquarium's—in its listing decisions.

February 26,2011 The sad truth of Lolita's lonely life.

For the past 40 years Lolita has been stuck in the worst tank ever made. She stays at a corner alone staring at nothing. She has her faith on us that one day soon we will come to her rescue. Baby girl we are doing all we can.  Here is the Footage of Lolita lonely just staring at nothing.

"As the essence of courage is to stake one's life on a possibility, so the essence of faith is to believe that the possibility exists."

Lolita Public Service Announcement

August 05, 2010 | Underdog Entertainment, a New York-based production company, announced that Daniel Azarian has produced a public service announcement (PSA) for to raise awareness of the plight of Lolita the killer whale. Forty years ago, herders violently took Lolita from her family in Puget Sound and transferred her to a 20-foot-deep tank at the Miami Seaquarium.

Free Lolita! A Whale Story - 1/23/2008

Free Lolita! A Whale Story
by Jessica Bennett (Newsweek)

It's been nearly four decades since Lolita the killer whale was snatched from her family in the waters of Puget Sound. Now activists want to bring her home.

For more than a decade, Howard Garrett has worked tirelessly out of his home on Whidbey Island, Wash., to return an orca whale named Lolita to her native waters. In 1995--inspired by the campaign to release Keiko, the "Free Willy" whale--he teamed with local politicians, offering the Florida aquarium where Lolita works a million dollars to reunite her with the pod of whales she grew up with, off the coast of Washington state. In 1997, he spent two years in Miami--unpaid--working to garner public attention for Lolita's cause; after nearly four decades in captivity, she's served her time, Garrett believes. Every year since then, his organization, the nonprofit advocacy group Orca Network, has held a beachside commemoration of the day Lolita was plucked from her family in the icy waters of Puget Sound.

Miami Seaquarium: Lolita the killer whale's act is safe - 2/10/2010


As any big star knows -- and Lolita the killer whale certainly qualifies at 7,000 pounds -- the show must go on.

So a day after the disturbing death of a marine mammal trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, the Miami Seaquarium put on its venerable killer whale and dolphin show to an almost packed house.

Lolita performed like the old pro she is after 40 years in a tank. She rocketed Robert Rose, the Seaquarium's curator, high into the air. She sang and -- much to the delight of everyone in the audience under 11 -- made fart sounds with her blow hole. She waved her flukes, soaked the front rows and attacked no one.

Miami Seaquarium: "Lolita's Happy" - 2/25/10

by Todd Wright (NBC 6 News Miami)

As SeaWorld parks around the country mourn the death of a trainer killed by a killer whale, local crowds have turned their attention to Miami's resident apex predator/entertainer, Lolita.

The lone killer whale at Miami Seaquarium could become the center of a potential storm brewing between animal activists and the entertainment industry that uses animals to bring in profits.

While information is still sketchy as to what made a 12,000-pound orca turn on its trainer on Wednesday, animal activists have always pointed to the confined accommodations for the large marine mammals as a factor that would inevitably stress the whales to their breaking point.

Lolita lives in a tank about one-tenth the size of those at SeaWorld and has no interaction with other killer whales. She swims in the smallest killer whale tank in North America.

Please Do Not Visit the Miami SeaQuarium

On August 8, 1970 Lolita (Tokitae) was captured in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, near Puget Sound, off the coast of Seattle, Washington.  Four baby whales and a young mother drowned during this capture.  The young mother and four calves had their belly’s slit, filled with rocks, weighted down with chains, and anchors, and then sent to the bottom of the Ocean.  This was done so people wouldn’t learn of their demise and the public outrage which would follow through media attention.  Today that is banned and illegal.

Forty years after her capture, she is the only remaining living Orca from that capture.  She has been completely alone since 1980, when a young male named Hugo died in the tank with her.  Lolita remains in the same tank built in the 1960s by the Miami SeaQuarium; now called “The Whale and Dolphin Stadium.” The tank is 35 feet wide and 80 feet across.  This tank is illegal under USDA/APHISstandards which require a killer whale enclosure to be at least 48 feet in all directions.

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