Government Report: Killer Whale Lolita’s Welfare at Risk
A leaky pool, sanitation issues, and a deteriorating roof at Miami Seaquarium’s killer whale stadium are threatening the welfare of orca Lolita and the dolphins housed in the oldest, smallest, and most decrepit marine park pools in the United States.
A recent inspection conducted by the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) found several issues with the structure which poses a risk to the marine mammals housed in this facility which are supposed to be protected by the regulations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The structural deficiencies may also pose significant risk of injury to employees and the hundreds of daily visitors to the Key Biscayne entertainment facility.
The March 20, 2012 inspection by USDA-APHIS Animal Care Veterinary Medical Officer Mary E. Moore, DVM found the following non-compliance issues:
- 1. A viewing window in the whale stadium which is part of the primary enclosure and the third window from the east, was noted to be dripping a constant stream. The window seal and structural integrity of this area as related to a primary enclosure housing a whale and dolphin should be evaluated and appropriate repairs made.
- 2. The tile baseboard in the whale fish kitchen is separating from the wall on both sides of the outside door. On the left side facing the door, a large gap is present between the wall and the baseboard. Buildings must be kept in good repair to facilitate appropriate cleaning and sanitation of food areas and ensure the health and well being of the animals.
- 3. The metal roof over the public stands in the whale stadium has rusted and corroded areas in the middle third of the roof. Part of the overhang was noted to have flaking rust. Several holes were noted in the metal roof panels as a result of deterioration. Directly in front of the access panel a large area of corrosion was seen adjacent to a support beam. Pieces of the compromised roof could fall into the primary enclosure especially during high winds and adversely affect the welfare of the animals.
This, and previous USDA-APHIS inspection reports for Miami Seaquarium can be seen below or by clicking HERE.
This is not the first time Miami Seaquarium has been cited for their deteriorating structures. In 2003, Miami Seaquarium was shut down by the Miami-Dade building department after numerous structural and safety issues were revealed:
”You can see they were patching here and patching there, and patching on patches, and they have been doing this for some time. That doesn’t work when you have a corrosive environment. Now they have gotten a wake-up call. They’re going to have to fix it up fast if they want to keep it open.” ~ Miami-Dade county building chief Charles Danger told the Miami Herald in September, 2003
Since the USDA-APHIS is only responsible in ensuring the welfare and safety of animals under its charge, a copy of the APHIS inspection report was forwarded to the Miami-Dade Building Department to make them aware of these potential risks to public safety. The report was sent by The Orca Project to several departments and department heads at the Miami-Dade Permitting and Inspection Center (MDPIC) on Friday, April 20, 2012. They have not responded or commented as of this date.
These latest violations still only scratch the surface of the numerous AWA deficiencies for which APHIS has been negligent in enforcing… turning a blind eye on the welfare of Lolita, a killer whale (Orcinus orca) who has spent more than 40 years cramped in the tiny deteriorating pool. Click HERE to read more about these deficiencies, HERE to learn more about Lolita, and click HERE to learn more about what you can do.
What else you can do:
Tell your friends and families not to visit or support Marine Mammal Parks like Miami Seaquarium, SeaWorld and Six Flags.
Call your Congressman and elected officials and tell them not to support Marine Mammal captivity. To locate your government officials, click <HERE>.