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

By CURTIS MORGAN
cmorgan@MiamiHerald.com

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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