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APHIS in Action… or inaction?

September 10, 2010

Lolita sitting listlessly in her tiny pool

On August 04, 2010 the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (USDA-APHIS) conducted an inspection of Miami Seaquarium (MSQ) and what they found them in violation of is startling.  In a word – nothing.  With a number of documented Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations, one has to wonder what our government officials are doing about the illegal and detrimental environments of captive orcas (killer whales).  This month marks 40 years that Lolita (also known as Tokitae or Toki) will have been in the same tiny pool.   For the past 30 years, she has been without the company of another orca.

We have now seen 3 orcas die in captivity in the U.S. over the past 3 months and yet, the government agency charged with ensuring their welfare have been negligent in their mission.

From the USDA- APHIS website:

For more than 40 years, Congress has entrusted APHIS with the stewardship of animals covered under the Animal Welfare and Horse Protection Acts.  APHIS continues to uphold that trust, giving protection to millions of animals each year, nationwide.

APHIS provides leadership for determining standards of humane care and treatment of animals. APHIS implements those standards and achieves compliance through inspection, education, cooperative efforts, and enforcement.

The key is “cooperative efforts”… apparently geared toward the needs of marine mammal parks; not the mammals. The Miami Seaquarium has successfully skirted every attempt to have APHIS enforce the AWA, and orca Lolita continues to pay the price with these violations (which can be seen in their entirety by clicking: here):

  • Perimeter Fence & Protection from Abuse and Harassment: Lolita’s pool does not meet AWA requirements to keep animals and unauthorized people out nor does it provide protection from abuse and harassment by the viewing public.
  • Protection from Weather and Direct Sunlight: Lolita is not afforded protection from the weather or from direct sunlight as is required by the AWA.
  • Space Requirements for Orca: The most egregious violation is that of Lolita’s pool size, comparable to that of a bathtub for a marine mammal of her size, which does not meet current AWA regulations.
  • Housing with Compatible Animals: Lolita has not been in the company of another orca since 1980. This highly social animal lives in relative solitude as the AWA is interpreted to accept her dolphin tank-mates as an adequate replacement for a member of her own species.
  • Pool Environment Enhancements: Non-food objects are utilized in Lolita’s pool for stimulation which may subject her to injury through ingestion; another AWA violation.
  • Emergency Contingency Plans: The wellbeing of Lolita and the other marine mammals are at the mercy of the toxic remnants of the Gulf oil spill, sewage contamination in Biscayne Bay and hurricane threats. APHIS has neglected to enforce AWA Emergency Contingency Plan requirements.

But you wouldn’t gather there was anything wrong by reading the single-page “Routine” APHIS inspection report:

OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has recently stepped up to the plate… big time… concerning trainer safety and their interaction with killer whales. It’s time for the USDA and APHIS to do the same for orcas.

What YOU can do:

  • Tell the USDA & APHIS they need to get tough on Marine Mammal Parks that keep Orcas for entertainment. Contact:

Betty Goldentyer, D.V.M.

Eastern Regional Director

USDA – APHIS Animal Care

920 Main Campus Drive-Suite 200

Raleigh, NC 27606

(919) 716-5532- Office

(919) 716-5696 – Fax

  • Visit the Orca Network to learn more about Lolita and a comprehensive plan to retire her to a sea pen or visit for news, events and protests.
  • Call your Congressman and elected officials and tell them not to support Marine Mammal captivity. To locate your government officials, click here.
  • Tell your friends and families not to visit or support Marine Mammal Parks like Miami Seaquarium, SeaWorld and Six Flags.
  • Read about a recent visit to Miami Seaquarium here.

What It’s Like To Be Banned From SeaWorld’s Facebook Page

September 9, 2010

SW FB coverIt’s not uncommon for SeaWorld to take down comments, or ban commenters, from its Facebook fan page if it doesn’t like what’s being said. But it is nevertheless an interesting experience.

In case you have never been banned yourself, this is what you get back when you write a very reasoned objection to being banned. SeaWorld’s responses are in bold, and they came from none other than Fred Jacobs, VP Of Communications.

Pretty funny (and revealing):

Dear SeaWorld, I am writing for a couple of reasons and I will be honest in my position within this message. I am a Zoology student who, admittedly, is against the keeping of cetaceans in captivity. From my point of view, I think SeaWorld is a good park, apart from this aspect.

We appreciate your candor, but displaying cetaceans really is at the core of what SeaWorld is all about.  You offer your position in clear terms, however, and we respect your opinion and your right to offer it.

This is my personal opinion but I wanted to be honest within my message. Pending the recent tragedy at the Orlando park, I was directed to email Fred Jacobs r.e. my questions on animal care and although I received an immediate response indicating that he will get back to me straight away, I am still to hear from him – this was over three weeks ago now.

I apologize for the delay.  This, as you might expect, is a difficult time for us.  I’ve had a lot of pressing matters to attend to.

I am quite upset at having just today been blocked from the SeaWorld Orlando fan page on FaceBook.

This is a SeaWorld fan site.  You can say what you please where you please, but we are under no obligation to provide you with a forum that you then use to criticize us.

I have never used offensive or abusive language in any of my posts – rather I will put across my opinion on already existing threads in a passive way, with supporting evidence backing up my points. Only once have I started a thread on the wall and that was merely explaining a publication by Graeme Ellis which the SW admin team misquoted statistics from (I explained what the actual statistics were in reference to and I knew this because I had been in communication with Graeme Ellis myself).

Again, I’m not sure why you feel it is your right to criticize us on our own Facebook site.  There are thousands of Web sites, and probably dozens of Facebook sites, devoted to the debate over marine mammals in captivity where your comments would be appropriate.

As far as Graeme Ellis’ work, we are familiar with it.  I’m not sure of the precise context of your comments about longevity, but I can guess what they are.  You should recognize that until every member of a group of animals is studied from birth to death, estimates of longevity in this species are just that, estimates.  Ellis himself acknowledges the variability of wild life expectancy in this species: “During the period of growth, mean life expectancy of females was 46 years (31 for males)…”  Mean life expectancy of his study group, the Northern Resident Group in British Columbia declined to 30 years for females and 19 for males.*

SeaWorld has been in existence for only 46 years.  We have made continuous improvements in husbandry, veterinary care, life support, water quality and exhibit design for killer whales over that period.  The question is this:  Will the killer whale calf born next month at SeaWorld Orlando live as long as a calf born on that same day in the Northern Resident Group and will that calf live as long as a calf born on that same day in the waters off Iceland or Alaska or Argentina?  The answer?  No one knows.  What I can tell you is that there are many, many species that live longer — far longer — in a zoological setting than they do in the wild.  As technology improves so will captive lifespans

* “Life History and Population Dynamics of Northern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus Orca) in British Columbia — 16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals.”

As someone who has a huge passion for orca, having worked with the likes of the WDCS, BDMLR and Dr. Ingrid Visser, I am deeply upset to have been treated in the way that I have by the SW admin team.

WDCS, like Ingrid Visser, has stated its opposition to SeaWorld many times.  Both want places like SeaWorld to close forever.  That is their right, but we disagree completely with what they stand for.  I’m not sure why you feel that an association with WDCS or Dr. Visser gives you the right to criticize SeaWorld on its own Facebook site.

I have myself been to SW two or three times and even participated in two of the behind-the-scenes programmes. I am from England, not the USA, but I am under the impression that like in England, America believes in freedom of speech so long as it is respectful and polite.

You have a clear right to say what you please.  You do not have a right to say anything you please on our Facebook site, however.

I have been nothing but respectful and polite and so am deeply upset to find that I have been removed from commenting on this page. I hope I can have at least some explanation as to what offence I have caused for this to have happened, if not a reversal of the situation. Many thanks for your time and I really do look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely, XXXXX.

But wait, our intrepid commenter was not satisfied with SeaWorld blowing her off on what she believed to be a distortion of Graeme Ellis’s work. So what did she do? She wrote Graeme Ellis, of course.

The reason why I am emailing you is because there is a bit of a debate going on on the SeaWorld fanpage (as well as a few other pages) on Facebook at the moment. There are a number of people who are trying to raise awareness about certain areas of research conducted which suggests that captivity isn’t great for certain animals (especially dolphins). I believe that it is important for people to make an informed decision about marine parks and captivity of certain animals and that education is so very important, so long as the information is presented in an honest and polite manner.

A recent rebuttal from the SeaWorld administration team recently quoted your research. However, myself and few others are under the impression that this research has been misquoted. It reads as follows:

“Peter F. Olesiuk, Graeme M. Ellis and John Ford, three of the world most respected marine mammal scientists and individuals who have studied longevity in wild whales for years, recently wrote in the peer-reviewed proceedings of the 16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals that female killer whales in their study group had a mean life expectancy of 31 years and males just 19 years.”

They used this particular sentence as a defence for keeping orca (and other dolphins) in captivity when someone questioned how captivity can possibly be justified when captive mammals are dying at a faster rate than their wild counterparts. I believe they are quoting the following (although I can’t find the 31 years for females):
“For males, 77% survived to the mean age of physical maturity (19 years) during the initial period of unrestrained growth, but this dropped to 56% during the more recent period of no net change.”

I am finding it difficult to understand the article, but I am aware of statistics published in your 1990 report for the IWC suggesting that female orca have an average life-expectancy of 50.2 years (80-90 maximum longevity) and males have an average life-expectancy of 29.2 years (50-60 maximum longevity) and I am under the impression (from the WDCS report I mentioned earlier) that these findings were also published in your 1994 “Killer Whales” publication.

There is much argument going back and forth about this, as well as about your opinion on captivity. So I thought, who better to ask than Graeme Ellis himself!

Yes, who better? And back came Graeme Ellis’s response:

Hi XXX, If you go to the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat web site (CSAS) and check out document 2005/045 you will see where the SeaWorld types picked the statement that met their needs. Basically the mean life expectancy for the resident type killer whales dropped during a time when both N&S resident populations went into decline caused by increased mortality rates which correlate strongly with a decrease in Chinook salmon abundance (their primary food). See attached publication. I hope this helps explain what appears to be a change in life expectancy. Since about 2001 the populations have reversed this declining trend, so life expectancies should return to what was previously published. Cheers, Graeme

So go the PR wars over the morality and humanity of captivity of marine mammals.

We think SeaWorld, and Fred Jacobs, are going to be in trouble when this fact-loving, and admirably persistent, student graduates and has more time.

Sea World Believe

Hard To Believe?

Sumar, the Killer Whale, dead at the age of 12

September 8, 2010

One of the problems for orcas in captivity is that they tend to die young. So it was sad, but not surprising, to hear of the death of 12-year old Sumar at SeaWorld San Diego earlier this week.  And it was even more sad to watch the video of him being removed while Orkid, his longtime friend, looks on.

Here’s part of the report from San Diego’s

SAN DIEGO — A killer whale died Tuesday afternoon at SeaWorld, prompting the cancellation of whale shows at the park, officials told 10News.According to SeaWorld officials, trainers noticed that the whale named Sumar was not feeling well on Monday. Veterinarians were notified and blood samples were taken.Despite being given antibiotics, Sumar’s condition worsened Tuesday and he was declared dead shortly before 1:45 p.m., park officials said.

“Unfortunately … he did not respond,” said SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz. “His condition continued to deteriorate today. … Whatever illness he had, it moved very fast.”Park officials told 10News the 12-year-old whale had no prior history of major health problems. The whale was removed from the park grounds and a necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, 10News reported.

Koontz said it was a “very sad day” for trainers and other staff members at SeaWorld.”They love these animals,” Koontz said. “They are devoted to these animals, and (the death of one is) like losing a member of their family.”Killer whales in captivity routinely live into their 30s or 40s, according to Koontz.

It would be nice if SeaWorld would release the results of the necropsy, because the reasons killer whales in captivity die suddenly are not very well understood. And despite what Koontz says, they DO NOT routinely live into their 30s and 40s. Of the 41 orcas still alive in captivity, only two have survived long enough to reach the age of 40, and only three have survived long enough to reach the age of 30. More than 130 have died before reaching those ages (details here).

Sumar has taken his last bow.

As an update; it has been reported that Sumar died of Intestinal/Mesenteric Volvulus. This is not an ‘illness’ that comes suddenly. Nausea, vomiting of bile, bowel movements that are mixed with blood and mucus, constipation, diarrhea, lethargy and fever occur as symptoms. Without immediate treatment, volvulus can lead to strangulation of the twisted bowel loop, ischemia, infarction, perforation, and fatal peritonitis. Since he doesn’t have the ability to speak and say, “I’m having major pain here.”, and they weren’t able to pick up on the clear signs he was mortally ill until the day before he died, they fed him antibiotics, which would do nothing to heal this particular ailment, and instead Sumar died a painful death because they are not equipped to treat such a thing.  This in despite of SeaWorld’s claims which repeatedly states, “We provide superior care for our animals”.

To give you a sense of how young orcas in captivity mostly are when they die, here is a list of orcas that have died at SeaWorld over the years, and their age at death (which doesn’t include more than a dozen stillbirths or miscarriages).

1. Shamu (F) – lived 6 years
2. Ramu – (M) lived 15 years
3. Kilroy (M) – lived 11.5 years
4. Kandu (F) – lived 4 years
5. Orky 2 (M) – lived 20 years
6. Nootka (F)– lived 20 years
7. Winston (M) – lived 15.5 years
8. Kandu 3 (F) – lived 4 years
9. Sandy (F) – lived 4.5 years
10. Kona (F) – lived 6 years
11. Canuck (M) – lived 2.5 years
12. Frankie (M) – lived 5 months
13. Kanduke (M) – lived 15 years
14. Kenau (F) – lived 15 years
15. Gudron (F) – lived 19.5 years
16. Canuck 2 (M) – lived 4 years
17. Kona 2 (F) – lived 10 years
18. Kandu 5 (F) – lived 12 years
19. Winnie (F) – lived 24.5 years
20. Kotar (M) – lived 16.5 years
21. Shawn (F) – lived 1 year
22. Kahana (F) – lived 12.5 years
23. Nootka 4 (F) – lived 12 years
24. Haidi 2 (F) – lived 19 years
25. Samoa (F) – lived 8.5 years
26. Bjossa (F) – lived 21 years
27. Katerina (F) – lived 10.5 years
28. Splash (M) – lived 15.5 years
29. Taku (M) – lived 14 years
30. Nyar (F) – lived 2 years
31. Baby – lived 38 days (Haida 2)
32. Hayln  (F) – lived 2 1/2 years
33. Taima (F) – lived 21 years
34. Baby Shamu 2 – lived 11 days (Kenau)
45. Sumar – 12 years

46. Kalina (F) – 25 years

There are lots of pics of Sumar here. And here is some video of Sumar doing what Sumar was trained to do.

RIP Sumar.

Poll: Should Tilikum be retired?

September 5, 2010

In light of the killing of animal trainer, Dawn Brancheau, on February  24th, 2010 – there has been a lot of controversy as to whether SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida should keep Tilikum captive, or retire him to a sea pen.

Let us know what you think.  Vote here and leave your comments below.

Seeing is Believing: Tilikum’s Lonely Life after Dawn.

September 3, 2010

Since the death of animal trainer, Dawn Brancheau, at SeaWorld Orlando in February, the marine mammal park’s officials have maintained that Tilikum, the killer whale involved in her death, continues to live a rather stimulating life. From the SeaWorld Parks Blog: “Tilikum’s day continues to be filled with variety and stimulation, including time with other whales, participating in training, husbandry, exercise and playtime sessions and the opportunity to breed.”
Many have questioned if SeaWorld is indeed providing quality “care” for Tilikum (aka, Tilly or Tili) and if he continues to lead an enriching life in captivity as new rules were imposed which limits his interaction with trainers and the other orcas. There has been deep concern for how his reported isolation may affect the well-being of this intelligent, social animal.  After two full days observing Tilly and his caretakers, one woman tells her story of what she saw. Is SeaWorld living up to its claims?   

On February 24th, 2010 – at SeaWorld in Orlando Florida, a captive Orca (Killer Whale) named, Tilikum, brutally killed his longtime trainer, Dawn Brancheau. Ever since that fateful day the question keeps coming up; what will SeaWorld do to enrich this orca’s life and make his time there meaningful and worthwhile?

Orcas are held captive at facilities in North and South America, Europe and Japan, providing entertainment for theme park visitors. Currently there are 42 in captivity worldwide. SeaWorld and its chain of marine mammal parks in the United States is the largest owner of captive orcas in the world.  In fact, they own more than half.  Currently they have an inventory of 19 Killer Whales who are dispersed and or moved around between parks in Orlando, FL, San Antonio, TX, (6) and San Diego, CA (6). At this time, 7 of them are housed at SeaWorld in Orlando.   SeaWorld also has 4 Killer whales “on loan” to Loro Parque in Tenerife, as well a new baby, bringing the total to 24 that SeaWorld owns world-wide.

Tilikum is the largest male orca on record in captivity weighing in at 12,500 pounds (5,600 KG) and reaching a little over 22 feet in length (6.9 Meters). He was captured near Iceland in November of 1983 at about two years of age and sent to live at Sealand of the Pacific in B.C., Canada. He was obtained by SeaWorld and moved to Orlando to become their prize stud in January of 1992 after he killed a female trainer who fell in the water in 1991. In 1999, Tilikum was involved in the death of a man who stayed in the park after hours and was found dead in the pool the next morning. This latest incident with killing his longtime trainer, Dawn Brancheau, brings Tilikum to a total of 3 deaths which are linked to him.

*As a sidenote; there have never been any recorded deaths of humans by Killer Whales in the wild to this day.

Since the brutal and untimely death of Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld has kept Tilikum out of the show “Believe” where he was the star of the “Splash” segment. One of his primary jobs at SeaWorld is (was) to come out towards the end of the show and spray the first 15 rows with water as he circled the pool. His other job there is to provide semen through mating or Artificial Insemination (AI) for the breeding program that continues today.

For the past 6 months (now 11), while SeaWorld conducts their own internal review, they have completely kept him from doing his segment in Believe. Considering OSHA handed down their report along with citations of “willful” negligence to the safety of their trainers on August 24th, it begs the questions: what does he do with his time? Why does SeaWorld hold on to him verses retiring him to a sea pen? What are they planning on doing with him in the future? And now that trainers are not allowed to come into contact with him, even at the water’s edge without a barrier, what does he do for stimulation? There are so many questions, so I went to see for myself what his days are like.   (It should be noted that since this story was written in September, I have gone back to see Tilikum regularily.  His condition and ‘lifestyle’ has not changed.  As of January 20th – Tilikum has been kept in isolation for 330 days, and counting.)  Read on.

 When we arrived the first thing in the morning on day 1, Tilikum was alone in the back pool (E pool) which has a covered awning.  The 6 other whales were spread out between the two front pools (B and C). When the gates are opened, they are able to continue on into the F pool and proceed directly into the Dining with Shamu pool (G pool).  This area has 3 underwater viewing windows in which guests of the park can view them when they swim by.

SeaWorld in Orlando has 7 pools in all, A – G. The section where “Believe” takes place is referred to as the “A” pool. D pool is a medical pool with a false bottom.  Kalina ( who died suddenly and unexpectedly on Oct 4), Kayla, Trua, Katina – (who gavebirth on Oct 9, 2010 ), Malia and Nalani (two small females) were relatively free to move around the Dine with Shamu pool and back into the F, C and B pools. Tilikum, however, was kept gated in E pool by himself. Yet, the workers I spoke with say they are all (including Tilikum) moved around throughout the day and are free to come and go as they please. This is simply not true. Tilikum was never able to come and go as he pleased.

Under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) separation is prohibited per 9CFR, section 3.109 – Separation.

Marine mammals, whenever known to be primarily social in the wild, must be housed in their primary enclosure with at least one compatible animal of the same or biologically related species, except when the attending veterinarian, in consultation with the husbandry/training staff, determines that such housing is not in the best interest of the marine mammal’s health or well-being. However, marine mammals that are not compatible must not be housed in the same enclosure. Marine mammals must not be housed near other animals that cause them unreasonable stress or discomfort or interfere with their good health. Animals housed separately must have a written plan, approved by the attending veterinarian, developed in consultation with the husbandry/training staff, that includes the justification for the length of time the animal will be kept separated or isolated, information on the type and frequency of enrichment and interaction, if appropriate, and provisions for periodic review of the plan by the attending veterinarian. Marine mammals that are separated for nonmedical purposes must be held in facilities that meet minimum space requirements as outlined in §3.104.

When the workers at the window told me (no less than 6 of them I spoke with) that they keep him away from the females at times because, “You know how frisky males can be.” I answered with, “Well then why not use birth control?” They said that, in SeaWorld’s opinion, it may mess with their brains.” These are answers that all of the workers at the DWS windows are telling people. I found it baffling because birth control is something that SeaWorld has absolutely used with their orcas in the past.

Tilikum showing his teeth in the viewing window

We watched the first show on day 1 which starts at 12:30 pm. They open the stadium approximately 45 minutes before the show. Trainers came by at noon to hose Tilikum down for about 3 minutes and after that gave him some fish.  They then rinsed out his mouth which is a necessary part of his daily routine because most of his teeth have been > manually drilled and are all but gone. <(See link.)  The trainers spent no more than 7 minutes total with Tilikum before getting ready for the show to begin.

Tilikum swam in slow circles or surface rested in the E pool and did so the entire show. At the time when the others were out having fun interacting with their trainers, he’s secluded off as though he is some outcast, and, without so much as a toy to play with. In the afternoon on the first day, the trainers brought a few of the whales to the F pool to have a training session. Tilikum was still alone in the E pool.

When waiting in the stands for the second show of day 1 to begin and watching Tilikum, I saw him being moved from the E pool to the Dining with Shamu pool (at 6 pm) and quickly left the show and went straight over to see him up close through the viewing windows. When he arrived to the pool he was given some minnow sized fish and, lucky for him, one of them had landed on the bottom. He came up to the window (showed his mouth – photo above) and then went down and picked up the little fish and swam around the tank in a circle with it in the tip of his mouth.  It was as though it was his little toy and amusement for the time. After 30 minutes, it finally fell apart, he lost interest, and let it go. We stayed there until closing at 7:10 pm.

Coming back early the next morning and seeing Tilikum in the same pool all by himself was quite startling.  He was simply logging (bobbing) listlessly and did so for nearly 3 and a half hours.  He has nothing else to do but bob in the water.  Here at the Dining with Shamu pool viewing window, there are employees who are stationed in one hour intervals in order to answer guest questions. When I asked the workers, “Why doesn’t he have any toys or something to play with?” – all four of them gave similar answers, such as: “We don’t want him to get bored with a certain toy so we change it up now and then.” Or, “For enrichment purposes they don’t want him to get too used to playing with the same things so they change his ‘routine’ often.”  Shocking and disturbing answer. 

When I told the workers as I watched him “napping” for over 3 hours that this type of behavior isn’t typical in the wild, they argued that it was. I said, “Not really because, orcas don’t normally sleep by themselves. In the wild they get close to their pod mates (Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins), synchronize their breathing, keep moving, and still dive – unlike Tilikum here who is vertical and bobbing in the water.”  The answer they gave to this was attributed to the fact that he is an Icelandic “transient”, therefore implying that transients are drifters and spend time alone. Of course I said, “That is not true, transient means they typically feed off other mammals such as seals and dolphins versus “residents” who are fish eaters.” Another point is – no one knows for sure if Tilikum was a transient or a resident when he was captured. Either way – both transient and residents stay together in matriarchal pods and have close family bonds for life. In fact, if he had never been captured from the wild, he’d be swimming next to his Mom at this very moment.  Something that Tilikum doesn’t have in this artificial setting at SeaWorld – a family pod.  Sadly, it is quite clear he is kept completely alone, something that would never happen in the wild.

Again, the thing that really bothered me was the fact that Tilikum did not have one toy in his pool – and since he is kept there alone – it would have been nice to see him at least playing with something. That said, I did not sleep over night in the park but, at a time when SeaWorld is under a microscope due to the penalties handed down recently by OSHA, you would think that during the day when the trainers are there and people (guests) are watching – they would do something more with and for him. I stayed at the pool and watched him from the first thing in the morning, until closing time. He did not have one toy, therefore, barely moved.

Tilikum unprotected from the blazing Florida sun

Also, in the morning of day 2 – (where he wound up staying by himself again until 6 pm when they moved him back to the E pool) – it is clear SeaWorld is also in violation of another AWA regulation about leaving a marine mammal under the elements without a shaded area for him to hide under in order to protect himself from the blazing Florida sunshine. E pool has a covered awning to protect the whales – Dining with Shamu pool, does not. He was there under the sun for no less than 10 hours.

AWA regulations state under 9CFR Section 3.103 (b). Facilities, outdoor.  Shelter. 

Natural or artificial shelter which is appropriate for the species concerned, when the local climatic conditions are taken into consideration, shall be provided for all marine mammals kept outdoors to afford them protection from the weather or from direct sunlight.

It also should be noted that Tilikum’s security guards are afforded shade in the form of an umbrella or covered awning.

As a person who has been monitoring the SeaWorld Orlando fan page of FaceBook over the past 6 months, what you are being told is happening with him by SeaWorld, and what is actually happening are two very different stories. When you ask SeaWorld, “What are you doing with Tilikum and what are his days like?”, they give you the same answer. “He is still interacting and socializing continually with the other whales, he gets just as much interaction, play, stimulation from the trainers and is doing very well.” – then they post this blog for reference.

Here it says that “Tilikum is no exception”, however, he is an exception. He is now linked to 3 deaths and clearly has issues with a couple of the other females as they are dominant over him, don’t blend well socially, so therefore, they are separated. Taima – Tilikum’s old mate who in June of 2010 died due to complications while trying to give birth for the 4th time in her short 20 years of life – was Tilikum’s “best friend”. The two were often together and now that she is gone, he is utterly alone.

As an aside, MMIRs obtained from NMFS FOIA state that Taima died from Uterine Prolapse. Prolapse is caused by a stretching of the ligaments that support the pelvic organs, causing those organs to stretch and ‘drop down’. And that is caused by her being breed far too young and far too often. It took her nearly 24 hours of labor before she finally died. It must have been a horrible and painful for her. Moreover, they couldn’t do anything and, in fact, didn’t know what to do (obviously), which simply reinforces the point that they should not be breeding whales in captivity.

Trua (a male orca) and Tilikum are friendly, however, in the 2 days I watched them – they were not put together one time. In fact, Tilikum was alone from 9 am on the morning when we arrived, until 7 pm the on the second day.

After viewing Tili for nearly 10 hours – two days in a row – I witnessed him in total isolation from the others over the course of those 20 hours. The others were allowed to mingle with each other, however, Tilikum was not given that opportunity on those two days. Now, again, I did not sleep overnight at the park but, Tilikum arrived from the E pool to the Dining with Shamu pool on day 1 at 6 pm sharp. He was still there at 9:00 am the next morning on day 2. Did they put a companion in with him at 7:30 pm – and take them out before 9:00 am? He was in a slumber when we arrived on day 2 so, I highly doubt it.

One cannot help but wonder – as sentient, intelligent, and aware these great beings are – how does Tilikum feel these days? He is definitely not appearing to be enjoying his time whatsoever. He barely moved from 9 am in the morning on day 2, and simply rested all day long until it came time to be fed. Once at 1 pm, 3 pm and 6 pm when they came with a bucket of ice and a few fish in order to lure him to go through the gate back to E pool.

Tilikum continually peers through the gate to look at the others

If he wasn’t sitting completely still, he moved 20 or 30 feet to go back and forth to the gate to peer over at the other whales having a training session. At one point during the end of the first Believe show on day 2, he went to the gate of the Dining with Shamu pool and tried nibbling on it as though he wanted out. He surely hears the activity going on. Even I could hear the show and my primary sense is not acoustic as his is.

He has to wonder — why? Why is he secluded, basically ignored and given no outer stimulation from an inanimate object such as a big ball or giant frisbee? Where did Taima go? And why can’t I be in the show? It’s heart-breaking really. Any sentient being would go out of their mind in such a situation. If they thought that Tilikum was dangerous towards humans or on the receiving end of aggressive behavior by the other orcas in this false pod situation before; what will happen to this poor soul if they continue to keep him separated, isolated, ignored, neglected and without the constant stimulation he deserves?

What I saw was totally unexpected. To be perfectly honest, I really thought he would have been with at least one of the other whales, interacted more with the trainers, and least of all, be active of his own volition throughout the day. He was none of these things. The word that kept coming to my mind and out of my mouth as I sat there watching him without pause was — “pathetic”.

I truly hope that SeaWorld will do the right thing and start looking into donating him to a foundation that is ready, willing and able to give him a better life such as one in a coastal sea pen. He could surely learn how to feed on his own once again, and even if he does not, there are caring human beings who would be more than happy to take care of his needs for the rest of his days. To think that he has the potential to live for a few more decades, it would be a tragic waste of a beautiful life if he continues to languish in such mundane conditions.    Here is a small video by Dr. Naomi Rose of the HSUS.  The loneliest whale in the world, Tilikum.

It is time to retire this beauty and get him in a setting that nature intended.

~  By Colleen Gorman

As a sidenote:  Since this was written, I have been back to the park on a regular basis to see Tilikum.  He is still isolated and not much has changed in this poor soul’s life.  They do not introduce him or even refer to him at the beginning of the Believe show as they do with the 6 others (including the new baby which arrived in October).  By keeping the pressure on SeaWorld and the awareness on Tilikum, we hope that they will have the heart to start treating him like part of the family versus the black sheep. 

To view more photos go to:

To view more videos go to my YouTube channel @

*To report violation of Animal Welfare Act:
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 1147 South Building
Washington, DC 20250

Phone: (202) 720-2511

Supporter “Talks Back” for Freedom of Captive Orca Lolita at Miami Seaquarium on 40th Anniversary

September 1, 2010

For 40 years, the Southern resident orca named Lolita (or Tokitae, Toki for short), has been held in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium… performing for tourists in what is an illegally sized pool, far too small by current Animal Welfare Act regulations. Many have spent years fighting for her freedom. 40 years to the day of Tokitae’s brutal capture in which she was torn from her family, one individual’s simple innocent written statement declaring “Free Lolita” nearly led to her own confinement by the Miami Police Department. This is her story:

First of all, this is the second time I have traveled to Miami to see Toki. As some of you will recall, in May of 2010, I had written my accounts of that visit. Ironically, something quite similar to the first visit as this last visit transpired. By this I mean, we were asked to leave no explanations’ given without my drilling them for answers, that is. Second, MSQ has been holding Lolita in the same tank that she arrived in 40 years ago with very little changes made to the overall structure in all those years. Her tank is clearly illegal (too small) according to the rules of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and not being enforced by the agency in charge of doing so – the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). That is clear, however, on the days we went in to see her, this wasn’t the only thing I found/find incredibly disturbing in what MSQ is doing.  (Here I will post a link which visibly shows how illegal her tank is, and hope people keep spreading the word in order to liberate this dear soul.)

I also would like to add that, we did not and do not pay Miami Seaquarium to get in. We have season passes that were donated to us for the purpose of checking in on her periodically. Each time is an experience in and of itself. So, to be clear – we aren’t contributing to the MSQ bottom-line.

The day before our “Walk for Lolita”, on Saturday August 7th, along with a few friends meeting up from various places around America for the demonstration outside of Miami Seaquarium, we went in to see both shows. One at 1pm, and the other at 5pm. Before seeing the first show, I must admit, Lolita looked and seemed much more energetic and playful than she did when I saw her in May of this year. She came up to see us quite often and even swam upside down in circles around the lower half of the pool. The gates to the medical tank where they house the Pacific white-sided dolphins (lags) were open this time, unlike in May where they were closed off. However, before the show starts while she’s begging for food, they lock her off to the front of the pool.

In the first show at 1 pm she did a few tricks; splashes, several fin slaps, sirens, breaches, and lifting of the trainer out of the water a couple of times. At one point we all noticed that when the trainer went under Lolita to be lifted high out of the water, the trainer wound up coming within about 4 feet of hitting the wall. You could clearly see the look of fear on the trainer’s face and her leaning back to avoid hitting. All in all, Lolita seemed good yet, they still don’t have the main focus on her. The lags are still 75% of the 20 minute show. The announcers did make many more comments about “Lolita” due to the fact that they were/are promoting the 40th anniversary of her being at Miami Seaquarium. I must admit that I found it quite annoying that they have been promoting this “Celebration” for about a week prior to kicking it off on Friday the 6th of August because, if they look back in their history books, as I mentioned earlier – she didn’t arrive until late September, so factually they are wrong.
In any case, the second show at 5pm was completely different. We sat on the opposite side of the stadium this time but it was clear Lolita didn’t want to “play” or cooperate. She wouldn’t do more than one of the several fin slaps they signaled for her to do, she wouldn’t do the “calls/sirens” they asked her to do, and the show just stopped a few times where even the dolphins were not doing anything whatsoever. There were periods in this show where nothing was happening at all and the trainers were looking at each other as though they didn’t know what was going on. After seeing the show 4 hours earlier where everything seemed to go off well, this show was the complete opposite. At the end of the show, unlike the first one, it was quite noticeable that Lolita would not go over by her trainer.

We were able to stay after both shows for about 5 to 7 minutes and it was almost sad to see because after Lolita’s trainer gave her the last fish, she was begging for, and poured the bloody juice from the cooler into Lolita’s mouth, she swam off to look at the other humans around the pool, including us. The trainer was trying to get Lolita’s attention, but she wouldn’t listen. She called her, slapped the water, and even got in the pool on the edge where the trainers hang out trying to call her – and still Lolita wouldn’t listen. To me it was as though she was being sassy and saying, “No, I don’t want to listen to you. I’m tired of this routine so leave me alone.” I’ve seen Lolita on 5 separate occasions and never saw her behave this way. Clearly this trainer (I believe her name is Jennifer) loves Lolita yet, I almost felt sorry for her that the orca she loves won’t listen to her and showed no interest in interacting at this point. Considering we could all see this it had to be a little humiliating for the trainer.

Ok now, fast forward to the next day, August 8th, the day of the walk. We were meeting a large group of people and several of us had arrangements to get some body paint with various artwork such as a portrait of Lolita, and/or little phrases such as; Save Lolita, Retire Lolita, Free Lolita, Born to be Wild, etc., etc. I opted for, Free Lolita on my back and, Born to be Wild, on my forearms. We had quite torrential rains just as we arrived to MSQ but even so, we hung out there with our signs for a good 30 minutes before throwing in the towel. After we were finished a friend of mine and I decided we’d go back to the hotel, dry off and go see her for the last time at the 5 pm show. We cleaned up my body paint (which, mind you, had got very smudged in the rain) and I thought well, “I’ll go like this to MSQ, why not?” I had no idea what trouble it would cause.

Since it was drizzling again when we entered, I wore a towel and umbrella and walked in the stadium and saw Lolita in her corner and stopped to say hi to the security guard I had talked with the day before. He was a very nice guy, has been there 2 and a half years and just plain friendly. In fact, I talked with him and another security guard the day before and had asked them kindly, out of curiosity, if they knew there were people who wanted to see Lolita retired? They smiled and said, “Yes…we know.”, and were very nice about it. They even said they knew her real name was Tokitae, and agreed that the tank was probably a little small for her. As a matter of fact, you could hear other patrons saying, “Wow, she’s beautiful but boy…that tank sure is small.” I even had a small boy come up and say it as though he was thinking out loud, but standing right next to me doing so. I agreed with him and watching him walk away as though he was sad. To be honest, I had a little chat with him about her after he mentioned how little her pool was – and he was very sad to hear she’s been in this same barren tank for 40 years.

After saying hi to the security guard who remembered me from the day before, I went over to say hi to Toki in her little corner where the trainers enter or spend time after the show. At this point they are down the stairs waiting for the show to start before they all come running in like a circus act. She spent several minutes with us – at least 4 or 5. At that point most of the patrons were taking their seats because of the drizzle and mostly congregated by the entrance area of the stands. There were very few people directly behind me. It was only 10 minutes to 5 pm yet, they were making announcements for people to take their seats. They made 3 such announcements which I found odd because they don’t start until 5. As the stands were starting to fill up (about 1/3rd capacity) and while talking with Toki and my friend Jeff – and minding our own business – I was approached by a female manager of MSQ (who I recognized immediately as we have seen each other on several occasions – like when in May the trainer, Robert Rose, had me and two other people thrown out for absolutely no reason whatsoever besides the fact we were with a recognizable female who is one of the leaders of the Save Lolita group and monthly protests the last Saturday of every month. That story is above in the link to the Thomas Paine’s Corner article.)

The manager and a security guard came up and told me, “I’m sorry Ma’am, I am going to have to ask you to leave.” To be quite honest, I did not even think twice that having “Free Lolita” or a 6″ (which I must add, I swear Toki peered at) portrait of her with “Born to be Wild” would be grounds to get expelled from the property. Maybe that was quite naive but, I do have to mention that the day before at the second show I had my “Save Lolita/Boycott Miami Seaquarium” tank top on and talked with the security guards and they never did anything. As a side note, I did see this woman who approached me on Sunday as the same woman standing at the exit seeing me leave with that shirt on.

As soon as she asked me to leave I thought and said, “Why? I haven’t done anything wrong.” She said, “I’m asking you to leave, you are on private property and we reserve the right to ask you to go.” I replied, “For having Free Lolita on my shoulders?” She said, “Ma’am I am asking you to leave and will refund your money, but it’s time to go.” To be honest, I knew then that it was better if I had a cordial question/answer session on behalf of Lolita than just go quietly, no questions asked. After all, at the same time this is going on, there are people all over the country and those who have been behind her cause for decades meeting at the point of capture in Penn Cove, doing ceremonies. Howard Garrett of Orca Network , Ric O’Barry of the Cove, and various politicians who in the mid 70’s changed laws about capturing wild orcas, after witnessing these brutal acts, were all out there paying homage to this beautiful soul I was standing next to and that we are all fighting for. Many other well-known people behind the movement to get her retired were out there holding visuals for her, so surely, I wasn’t going to just walk out for having a loving statement on my body. In fact, I pointed out to the manager several times that, “I don’t have anything derogatory or defamatory about Miami Seaquarium anywhere on my body. I haven’t said anything, I’m not talking to strangers about what a God awful place this was….nothing.”

That said, one thing she did say to me about 3/4ths of the way through the discussion was, “What if a child was to see that?”, as though it were profanity. I found her statement/words quite strange and pondered them after we left. Why was “Free Lolita” too much for a child to read? Is it perhaps because a child may question, “Mommy, why does that woman want Lolita free?” and perhaps start asking questions like they did with Keiko, the beloved orca in the movies, Free Willy? Children were a huge part of the movement behind his cause.

In any case, as the manager kept pointing out that, “It is our Policy and we reserve the right to ask anyone we want to leave”, and I kept asking (no less than 10 times) to please let me see this policy and where it says, in writing, that a simple statement is grounds to be kicked out. It was then I noticed out of the corner of my eye that one of the security guards surrounding us had left. Well, little did I know it was because he went to get a Police officer to escort me out or arrest me if I didn’t go. I said hi to the officer and calmly asked him, “But why? I didn’t “do” anything threatening; I wasn’t holding a banner or large sign, and as I pointed out, I did not speak to anyone around me – I did not try throwing anything in the pool – I did not try to endanger a marine mammal – I didn’t jump in the pool or try to hurt Lolita—why should I have to go?” Well, apparently they have the right to ask you to leave because they are on private property. You can go to the party they invited you to attend but, you have to give up your freedom of speech rights.

Right or wrong, I went right to the line and stayed just short of getting “arrested” for having the words, “Free Lolita” on my body in 2.5 inch letters. I felt horrible after outside of the park as though I was some fool for going in there expecting not to get tossed out. To be honest, as soon as I walked out of the gate, I cried like a 6-year-old girl who just lost her puppy. Not only did I feel bad for my friend who had to leave with me – I felt just awful that I didn’t get the chance to turn around and say, good bye, to her. Maybe that was prophetic and it was the last time I see her in that tiny pool at MSQ? I would like nothing more than to never see her again there, and the next time it is when she is being lowered into a sea pen off Puget Sound. So perhaps not saying good bye to Lolita that last time was fitting…

All in all, the fact that Miami Seaquarium does not want any sort of advertisement to the causes behind her retirement plan became extremely clear. They feel the need to hold on tight to her as their solo “cash cow” when she is clearly healthy, strong and even though she is able to be rehabilitated, retired and potentially reunited with her family in the Salish Sea off Washington. When you stop and think about the fact that; Arthur Hertz, the owner of MSQ and, Andrew Hertz, his son and General Manager, could make moves to negotiate her retirement with all these great organizations behind her – get her into a coastal sea pen after 4 decades of hard work (mostly in solitude) – and come out looking like heroes, it makes one take pause and wonder – why not? Why not make Miami Seaquarium into a rehabilitation center/aquarium and use the other parts as a Water Park where they could surely make more money on a daily basis over the course of the year, than do an orca show twice a day for a total of 10 minutes of her 24 hour day?

Also, in addition to his duties at the park, Andrew [Hertz] serves Florida’s tourism community as the incoming chair of the Florida Attractions Association, is on the board of Visit Florida serving as its Treasurer, and has been appointed to the Florida Commission on Tourism by Governor Charlie Christ. Too many “friends” in the right places? Look, and judge for yourselves.

There are so many more questions beyond that like; why do the Hertz men not have compassion for this beautiful soul and do the right thing by her and make her a bigger pool just because they care about her? ( <— details of violations). Why doesn’t APHIS enforce the law in place by the AWA and fine them for her tank being illegal? Why aren’t they shutting them down after years of it being illegal? Why don’t they force them to expand the pool? And why on earth wouldn’t the Hertz family do so because, as noted, they care about her well-being and also just for the sheer fact that she is swimming in a pool the equivalent of a 6″ inch Goldfish bowl for a fish that is 3″ inches long? She is an orca – not a mere fish. She’s an intelligent, sentient being and is acutely aware, just as humans and orcas by nature are, of what is going on around her 24 hours a day.

More questions; why isn’t someone filing a Class Action Lawsuit against, APHIS, for not enforcing the law that they are supposed to? Why isn’t the City of Miami-Dade county, suing the MSQ or making them bring her tank up to code after all these years, since the land is owned by the City, not the Hertz family? I can assure you that if I owned a business on land owned by Miami-Dade and was non-compliant with the law – I’d be fined and evicted if I didn’t comply. And lastly – why doesn’t the Miami Herald call them out on their criminal – law breaking ways? Is it because Hertz pays too much money in advertising and it’s a conflict of interest?

What will it take to make things happen for this beautiful soul who deserves much better than what she has been given?

It’s time to retire this enslaved orca and get her back where she belongs. Please keep spreading the word and never give up hope that one day, she will be found with some compassion in the hearts of those that are Hertz, and swimming in a natural setting in her home waters. Her family is there, and they are waiting for her to come home.

By: Colleen Gorman

“I believe in the power of you and I” ~ A great video dedicated to those who fight for the rights of these beautiful, intelligent beings.

More great links and videos to ponder over: Lolita: A Slave to Entertainment Lolita – Her Life

Lolita the Orca; Facts, Legal Issues and How To Get Her Home

September 1, 2010


Photo courtesy of Colleen Gorman

“It is simply her remarkable spirit that has kept her alive this long”

Name: Lolita

Prior name: Tokitae – which means ‘”nice day, pretty colors” in Chinook

Nickname: affectionately known as “Toki”

Species: (Orcinus orca) Killer Whale, also called Orca

Approx. size: 21 feet long

Approx. wt: 6,000 lbs

Approx. age: 43 yrs

Location: Miami Seaquarium (MSQ), Miami, FL, a subsidiary of Wometco, a privately held company.

Family: Lolita’s birthright is the L25 matriline of the “L” pod of the Southern Resident orca community in the Pacific Northwest. Lolita’s mother is believed to be Ocean Sun, approx. age 82, who still resides with Lolita’s family swimming freely in the open waters where Lolita was captured. Her capture occurred right before implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act which helps protect her family members from being taken, although loopholes still exist in these laws. In 2005 the Southern Resident orcas were listed as endangered species. Because Lolita was caught ‘pre-act’, the powers-that-be excluded her from the status of endangered.    More on Lolita’s Life before Capture: HERE

Captured: August 8, 1970 in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, Washington State. Lolita is the last surviving orca of 45 members of the Southern Resident community that were captured and delivered for display in marine parks between 1965 and 1973. At least 13 members of her family were killed during the brutal captures.    More on Lolita’s Capture: HERE

Lolita’s Life at Miami Seaquarium: Lolita arrived at Miami Seaquarium on September 24, 1970. She was kept separated from her future tank-mate orca Hugo until June 2, 1971.  They performed together for 9 years until Hugo’s death in 1980 after repeatedly bashing his head into the walls of the pool, in what many believe to be an act of suicide. (Click HERE for more information on Hugo’s death including Necropsy Report). After 12 years of service – they simply dropped his body in the Miami dump. Lolita has been alone (aside from a few dolphins) for 30 years, performing tricks for tourists, two shows a day. Since 1970 Lolita has resided in what is the smallest and oldest orca tank in the United States. The tank is merely one-and-a-half-times her size, has garnered numerous safety violations, and does not meet US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Regulations. Now a young adult at about 43 years old, Lolita has been a “captive” entertainer for 40 years. Only Corky at Sea World in San Diego, captured in 1969, has been in captivity longer. The Gulf oil spill caused by oil giant BP is now threatening the captive marine mammals at MSQ, including Lolita. MSQ and the USDA and APHIS are not prepared to deal with this crisis.    More on Lolita’s Life Today: HERE …and the BP oil spill contamination: HEREand eye-witness visits to Lolita HERE.

UPDATE- October 25, 2013: Not much has changed for Lolita since we first posted this information in September of 2010. Brought to us by our friends at the Orca Network and Dr. Ingrid Visser of Orca Research Trust is the following 8-1/2 minute documentary “A Day in the Life of Lolita, the Performing Orca” produced by Daniel Azarian. It follows a visit to Miami Seaquarium by Ingrid in the summer of 2013 and outlines much of what is contained in this report. It is superbly produced and is a “must-watch” for all who are concerned about Lolita’s welfare. Thank you Orca Network, Ingrid and Daniel for an incredible documentary.

Captivity continues without enforcement of numerous Animal Welfare Act Regulation Violations:

  • Perimeter Fence & Protection from Abuse and Harassment: Lolita’s pool does not meet the requirements to keep animals and unauthorized people out nor does it provide protection from abuse and harassment by the viewing public. (see more below)
  • Protection from Weather and Direct Sunlight: Lolita is not afforded protection from the weather or from direct sunlight to benefit her health and well-being. (see more below)
  • Space Requirements for Orca:The most egregious violation which has not been enforced is that of Lolita’s pool size, comparable to that of a bathtub for a marine mammal of her size. (see more below)
  • Housing with Compatible Animals: Lolita has not been in the company of another orca since 1980. This highly social animal is subjected to this solitude with the unfounded belief that her dolphin tank-mates are an acceptable replacement for a member of her own species. (see more below)
  • Emergency Contingency Plans: The wellbeing of Lolita and the other marine mammals at MSQ are now being threatened by the Gulf oil spill and MSQ and APHIS have neglected to enforce Emergency Contingency Plan requirements. (see more below)
  • Pool Environment Enhancements: Non-food objects are utilized in Lolita’s pool for stimulation which may subject her to injury through ingestion. (see more below)
  • Hurricane Threats with no Plan to Protect Marine Life & Contamination of Biscayne Bay (see more below)

Miami Seaquarium General Information and Owner Information (see more below)

Campaigns to Retire Lolita to a SeaPen (see more below)



Animal Welfare Act 9 C.F.R. PART 3—STANDARDS

Subpart E—Specifications for the Humane Handling, Care, Treatment, and Transportation of Marine Mammals

Section 3.103 (3)(c) Perimeter fence

“On and after May 17, 2000, all outdoor housing facilities must be enclosed by a perimeter fence that is of sufficient height to keep animals and unauthorized persons out. Fences less than 8 feet high for polar bears or less than 6 feet high for other marine mammals must be approved in writing by the Administrator. The fence must be constructed so that it protects marine mammals by restricting animals and unauthorized persons from going through it or under it and having contact with the marine mammals, and so that it can function as a secondary containment system for the animals in the facility when appropriate. The fence must be of sufficient distance from the outside of the primary enclosure to prevent physical contact between animals inside the enclosure and animals or persons outside the perimeter fence. Such fences less than 3 feet in distance from the primary enclosure must be approved in writing by the Administrator.”

Lolita’s tank definitely does not have a 6 foot perimeter fence around it. Anyone could reach their hands over the tank or jump in it if they really wanted. I don’t think a trainer would have time to stop it. Comparing to SW and Six Flags, they all have the high glass type enclosures that one cannot just reach or climb over easily. So per the law, the APHIS administrator would have had to approve of the fence. So the question would be, was Lolita’s perimeter fence approved by the Administrator?

Photo courtesy of Shelby

3.101 (2) Facilities, general

“All marine mammals must be provided with protection from abuse and harassment by the viewing public by the use of a sufficient number of uniformed or readily identifiable employees or attendants to supervise the viewing public, or by physical barriers, such as fences, walls, glass partitions, or distance, or any combination of these.”

This would also bring the perimeter fence into play since there is no physical barrier tall enough to protect Lolita from the viewing public. Looking at old pictures of Lolita and Hugo, there was a much higher fence around their tank at one point that was over 6 feet, but I don’t know when it was changed.


Section 3.103(3)(b) Shelter

“Natural or artificial shelter which is appropriate for the species concerned, when the local climatic conditions are taken into consideration, shall be provided for all marine mammals kept outdoors to afford them protection from the weather or from direct sunlight.”

Lolita’s tank has no shade structure at all. As seen by the image from Google Earth, her tank is fully exposed to the sun. The only way she can get shade is by moving around the tank as the position of the sun changes. Lolita also has no protection from the Miami hurricanes. Miami is known to be an area in the United States that is prone to hurricanes.

Graphics courtesy of Wendy

Now in 2008, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was found in “Indirect non-compliance” of Section 3.103. The inspection report reads:

“Shouka stadium back area: there are no shade structures in the three pools in the back of the facility. Shade structures need to be added over or around the pools. This is necessary for the protection from the sunlight for the health and well-being of the animals.”

My question is does APHIS consider the stadium seats around Lolita’s tank and the barrier wall behind the medical pool her shade structures.  If you look at the picture of Shouka’s stadium below, there is nothing at all around the 3 pools in the back. Shouka’s stadium is similar to Lolita’s with the stadium seats being shaded (except for the front rows), the main pool is exposed to the sun and in between the main pool and back tanks is a high wall that goes across the back of the tank the length of the pool.

Yes, the stadium cover and wall structure provide shelter throughout the day to protect Lolita from direct sunlight, but there are periods of the day where those structures do not provide protection from direct sunlight. Is it considered by APHIS that the periods of the day when the tank is fully exposed to the sun are insignificant since there are parts of the day when Lolita is provided shade as the sun’s position changes?

Graphics courtesy of Wendy


3.104 Space Requirements

“(a) General. Marine mammals must be housed in primary enclosures that comply with the minimum space requirements prescribed by this part. These enclosures must be constructed and maintained so that the animals contained within are provided sufficient space, both horizontally and vertically, to be able to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement, in or out of the water. (An exception to these requirements is provided in §3.110(b) for isolation or separation for medical treatment and/or medical training.) Enclosures smaller than required by the standards may be temporarily used for nonmedical training, breeding, holding, and transfer purposes. If maintenance in such enclosures for nonmedical training, breeding, or holding is to last longer than 2 weeks, such extension must be justified in writing by the attending veterinarian on a weekly basis. If maintenance in such enclosures for transfer is to last longer than 1 week, such extension must be justified in writing by the attending veterinarian on a weekly basis. Any enclosure that does not meet the minimum space requirement for primary enclosures (including, but not limited to, medical pools or enclosures, holding pools or enclosures, and gated side pools smaller than the minimum space requirements) may not be used for permanent housing purposes. Rotating animals between enclosures that meet the minimum space requirements and enclosures that do not is not an acceptable means of complying with the minimum space requirements for primary enclosures.”

“(1)(i) The required minimum horizontal dimension (MHD) of a pool for Group I cetaceans shall be 7.32 meters (24.0 feet) or two times the average adult length of the longest species of Group I cetacean housed therein (as measured in a parallel or horizontal line, from the tip of its upper jaw, or from the most anterior portion of the head in bulbous headed animals, to the notch in the tail fluke8 ), whichever is greater; except that such MHD measurement may be reduced from the greater number by up to 20 percent if the amount of the reduction is added to the MHD at the 90-degree angle and if the minimum volume and surface area requirements are met based on an MHD of 7.32 meters (24.0 feet) or two times the average adult length of the longest species of Group I cetacean housed therein, whichever is greater.”

The minimum horizontal dimension for Lolita’s tank would be 48 feet, which APHIS agrees. APHIS claims that Lolita’s tank is 60 x 80 feet, not including the medical pool in the back. Lolita is around 22 feet long.  By APHIS claiming Lolita’s tank is 60 feet across from the edge of the pool to the trainer’s platform would mean you could line Lolita up in a straight row approximately 3 times to equal the 60 feet distance. Clearly, this is impossible.

Photo courtesy of Shelby

Per measurements taken from Google Earth of Lolita’s tank, the measurement between the edge of the pool to the trainer’s platform is approximately 35 feet, which is 25 feet less than APHIS’s measurement of 60 feet and 13 feet smaller than what the law requires.

Graphics courtesy of Wendy

A response from Google Earth regarding the accuracy of the straight line measurements is pending. Taking a measurement of the length of the tank APHIS states is 80 feet concluded Google Earth’s measurements to be quite accurate as there is no dispute that this length of Lolita’s tank is 80 feet.

Adding in the medical pool in the back of Lolita’s tank, which measures approximately 25 feet would coincide with the 60 foot measurement APHIS states. Yet APHIS states they did not include the medical pool in their measurements of 60 x 80 feet and the use of the medical pool does not diminish the size of the main pool.

Graphics courtesy of Wendy

On December 14, 1995 the Miami Herald published an article “Lolita’s tank is big enough, feds say”.

“Lolita the Killer Whale has enough room in her tank at Miami Seaquarium, federal animal-protection officials ruled Wednesday. A week after re-measuring Lolita’s pool in response to persistent complaints from an animal activist, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the tank exceeds minimum legal space requirements. “There is adequate space,”said Dr. Richard Watkins, the USDA’s southeast regional director for animal care….“
So where is the documentation from USDA’s measurements of Lolita’s tank? How was the tank measured?


Section 3.109 Separation

“Marine mammals, whenever known to be primarily social in the wild, must be housed in their primary enclosure with at least one compatible animal of the same or biologically related species, except when the attending veterinarian, in consultation with the husbandry/training staff, determines that such housing is not in the best interest of the marine mammal’s health or well-being. However, marine mammals that are not compatible must not be housed in the same enclosure. Marine mammals must not be housed near other animals that cause them unreasonable stress or discomfort or interfere with their good health. Animals housed separately must have a written plan, approved by the attending veterinarian, developed in consultation with the husbandry/training staff, that includes the justification for the length of time the animal will be kept separated or isolated, information on the type and frequency of enrichment and interaction, if appropriate, and provisions for periodic review of the plan by the attending veterinarian. Marine mammals that are separated for nonmedical purposes must be held in facilities that meet minimum space requirements as outlined in §3.104.”

Lolita has been without the companionship of another orca for 30 years. APHIS states the Miami Seaquarium meets AWA regulations requiring that social marine mammals, such as orcas, be housed with at least one compatible animal of the same or biologically related species. Lolita has shared her tank for many years with Pacific white-sided dolphins that are, like Lolita, cetacean mammals.

Lolita is a member of the Southern Resident Community of orcas in the Pacific Northwest. The Southern Residents are a social structure of orcas consisting of generations of family. There is no known Southern Resident orca leaving from their pod to live with a pod of Pacific White Sided Dolphins.

Howard Garrett of Orca Network also stated “in 2009 a paper was published proposing that the species Orcinus orca be divided into several new species, based on the observed fidelity and cohesion of distinct interrelated family groups. See: LeDuc, Richard G., Kelly M. Robertson, and Robert L. Pitman (2008). Mitochondrial sequence divergence among Antarctic killer whale ecotypes is consistent with multiple species Biol. Lett. (2008) 4, 426–429. Link: HERE

“The congruence of these lines of evidence suggests that the divergence between these types represents a species boundary. Given this fidelity and cohesion within extended family groups, now universally accepted within the scientific community, the only compatible animal for Lolita would be a member of the Southern resident community. Based on their shared calls, Hugo was probably also a member of the Southern residents. Since 1980 the Seaquarium and USDA have no basis in stating that Lolita is housed with a compatible animal, or any other cetacean would be a compatible animal, except another member of her genetic and cultural community.”

Six Flags again was found in “Indirect non-compliance” on May & June of 2008. The inspection report states:

“The orca is single housed. They are using a dolphin as a companion animal but they are separated but next to each other the majority of the time. This situation is being reviewed by USDA APHIS.”

Is the Miami Seaquarium to be entrusted to say that Lolita is not separated by gates from the dolphins the majority of the time? And the wording of APHIS stating “They are using a dolphin as a companion animal” sounds strange compared to their statement that the Miami Seaquarium meets Section 3.109 requirements because Lolita is housed with another cetacean.

In May of 2010, Colleen Gorman, an individual concerned for animal welfare gave an account of her visit to the Miami Seaquarium and documented the conditions of Lolita’s daily routine and the solitude of Lolita and her separation from her tank-mate dolphins who are often separated by gates dividing the main pool and medical pool. Colleen’s account can be found HERE.


Section 3.101 (4)(b) Facilities, general

“(b) Water and power supply. Reliable and adequate sources of water and electric power must be provided by the facility housing marine mammals. Written contingency plans must be submitted to and approved by the Deputy Administrator regarding emergency sources of water and electric power in the event of failure of the primary sources, when such failure could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to the good health and well-being of the marine mammals housed in the facility. Contingency plans must include, but not be limited to, specific animal evacuation plans in the event of a disaster and should describe back-up systems and/or arrangements for relocating marine mammals requiring artificially cooled or heated water. If the emergency contingency plan includes release of marine mammals, the plan must include provision for recall training and retrieval of such animals.”

This would require the Miami Seaquarium to have a written contingency plan regarding emergency sources of water and electric power in the event of a failure of the primary sources, when the failure could affect the health and well-being of a marine mammal. They are required to have a plan for whatever the circumstance may be that would cause a failure of their primary source of water and electrical. The oil spill threat of 2010 made the absence of a contingency plan extremely negligent on the behalf of the Seaquarium.

In July, 2010 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a 61- 80% chance that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would hit the Miami area in August. In addition to the oil, the chemical dispersant used to break up the oil, which is dangerous to the health of animal life, was to be included in the toxic mix approaching Miami waters as reported by the NOAA HERE.  Miami Seaquarium demonstrated they are not prepared to deal with any pending disaster.

Due to the possibility that contaminated water may still reach Miami, the public and by animal welfare organizations are still concerned for the safety and health of Miami Seaquarium’s wildlife. In addition to killer whale (orca) Lolita, the lives of 30 dolphins, 15 seals and sea lions, dozens of reptiles/fish, sea turtles, and at least eight manatees may be in peril. Built in the 1950’s, this marine mammal park relic uses an open water system, which feeds directly from Biscayne Bay filling its numerous performing animal tanks, including that of Lolita.

Andrew Hertz, General Manager of Miami Seaquarium demonstrated his non-compliance through public statements in media reports and by indications of intent to file monetary claims against oil corporation BP. These acts indicate Miami Seaquarium has an insufficient filtration system and a lack of reliable and adequate emergency sources of water in the event of failure of the primary source, as was anticipated to occur in August, 2010 via contamination from the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The contaminated water, with its toxic mix of chemical dispersants still poses a threat to the good health and well-being of the marine mammals housed in this facility.

Through published media at WPLG Channel 10 in Miami HERE, Mr. Hertz stated his intention to file a $3 to $5 million dollar claim against BP citing his requirement to upgrade the marine park’s filtration system

By this action, Mr. Hertz admittedly demonstrated that MSQ is not prepared, equipped or otherwise capable of carrying out a contingency plan (Plan) to provide emergency sources of water and/or arrangements for relocating marine mammals as is required by Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b). The news report states, in part:

“If I have damages, I’ve got dead animals that are irreplaceable. I need help on the front end to keep that from happening,” Hertz said. When the Seaquarium pulls saltwater from Biscayne Bay, the water goes through a complicated filtration system before it gets to the animals. But Seaquarium representatives said even that system cannot handle large amounts of oil, so they are looking at alternatives — but none of them are cheap. “Whether it is digging a deep well here on property that hits salt water underground or whether it is burying a new intake under the seabed out there so the seabed turns into a filtration system for us, however it works it is going to cost money I don’t have in my budget right now,” Hertz said.

Additionally, APHIS spokesman David Sacks indicated that a Plan exists but APHIS does not have a copy of the Plan. I believe this is an irresponsible act by APHIS by failing to maintain copies of Emergency contingency plans or to substantiate and/or verify the existence of such. Mr. Hertz went on to contradict the APHIS assertion that a Plan exists; “We have been consulting with APHIS as we develop our contingency plans. Once finalized, we will send the plan to them. Moving the animals is not a consideration”, Hertz added. Both Mr. Sacks’ and Mr. Hertz’s statements were made public in numerous media outlets including Washington’s Kitsap Sun HERE.

On July 6, 2010 John Kielty, an individual concerned for the wellbeing of marine mammals filed a request for information with the USDA/APHIS Freedom of Information Act office requesting to receive a copy of Miami Seaquarium’s contingency plan to provide emergency sources of water and/or arrangements for relocating marine mammals as is required by APHIS Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b). Additionally, he requested a copy of any proposed Disaster Plan submitted to APHIS regarding the pending contamination of the MSQ water supply by the gulf oil spill. This request was assigned case #FOIA 10-530. The response from APHIS dated July 20, 2010 states the following:

“The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) does not have a disaster plan requirement. Although a written “emergency” contingency plan for marine mammals must be submitted and approved by the Deputy Administrator, the AWA regulations do not require APHIS to maintain these plans. Nevertheless, Agency employees conducted a thorough search of their files and have advised the FOIA office that our Agency has no records responsive to this request.”

As the Gulf oil spill caused by oil giant BP was threatening captive marine mammals, including Lolita, Mr. Kielty objected to the claim that the AWA does not have a disaster plan requirement. Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b) clearly states the requirement for specific animal evacuation plans in the event of a DISASTER and additionally objected to the claim that APHIS does not have a copy of emergency plans as required by APHIS Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b).

Miami Seaquarium’s emergency contingency plans need to be made available to the many individuals and organizations that would need to make short term preparations should the evacuation of Lolita become necessary. In a recent interview with the Puget Sound Marine Life Examiner HERE, Howard Garrett of Orca Network expressed the need for immediate actions;

“I’d like to see something announced this week, either by APHIS or the SQ. It would be highly irresponsible to wait until the oil is lapping on the side of the park. There’s a lot of logistics to get into motion to get the bay pen prepared, the transport arranged, the personnel lined up, and to get her accustomed to going into a sling, give her physical exams, etc. The dispersant penetrates the skin and the oil kills rapidly. Letting her be hit by oil would be corporate negligence, like the BP gusher itself.”

The above statements clearly demonstrate there are contradictions and discrepancies in statements by APHIS officials and those by Miami Seaquarium’s management.


Section 3.101(2)(g) Facilities, general

“(g) Enclosure or pool environmental enhancements. Any nonfood objects provided for the entertainment or stimulation of marine mammals must be of sufficient size and strength to not be ingestible, readily breakable, or likely to cause injury to marine mammals, and be able to be cleaned, sanitized, and/or replaced effectively.”

Could this wetsuit be construed as ingestible or readily breakable? Is this an appropriate nonfood object to entertain or stimulate Lolita? Considering that her trainers wear wetsuits, is giving her one to “entertain” or “stimulate” Lolita a good idea for the safety of the trainers?

Sewage in Biscayne Bay

One of the most prolific reasons given by Miami Seaquarium staff and supporters of Lolita’s continued captivity is a claim that she is safer in the waters fed by Biscayne Bay than she would be in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, citing contamination in the PNW would kill her. This statement is false and perpetuated by the staffs at marine parks, but it’s not connected to reality. Howard Garrett of Orca Network indicates the toxins of Washington’s coastal waters are bioaccumulative endocrine disrupters, like PCBs, not infectious pathogens. No immunity can be built up, and since it takes decades for dangerous levels to accumulate in blubber layers, and the effects occur mainly only as a result of the effects of malnutrition, the toxins would not be a factor for Lolita.

Conversely, over-development of Miami-Dade has had a significant impact on surface water quality in Biscayne Bay. In many of the coastal areas in the region, the infrastructure to convey storm water and sewage is outdated. Storm water runoff from intensively developed properties and roadways, hydrologic modifications, and pollution from septic systems pose the greatest threats to water quality in Biscayne Bay as reported HERE and HERE.

In July 2010, a 72-inch pipe burst and spewed an estimated 20 million gallons of sewage into Biscayne Bay, city officials in some municipalities that were affected say Miami-Dade County did little to notify them. The cause of the break was due to the “catastrophic failure” of the reinforcing wire in the pipe which was manufactured by a company that is now out of business. The county may be faced with a large-scale and costly effort to prevent further breaks from occurring. Read more HERE.

With these water quality issues and Miami-Dade’s failures to notify businesses in the event of contamination, we can not rely on Miami Seaquarium to discover problems and react to protect Lolita and their marine life. As recently as 2007, Miami Seaquarium was cited for failing to meet the pathetic minimum standards for bacterial testing as required by the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS). The lax standards that are in place call for bacterial coliform testing to be performed at least weekly. Not a high priority for MSQ. On at least 3 occasions in 2007, Miami Seaquarium exceeded these minimums including a 15 day period in February, 2007 when no bacterial testing was performed. And this is only what APHIS has discovered and reported. This is just another example of Miami Seaquarium’s lack of concern for the welfare of their marine life.

Hurricane Threat

The 2010 hurricane forecast from the National Weather Service indicates ‘major hurricanes’ are ahead, and Miami Seaquarium has no Hurricane Preparedness plan, APHIS does not require and/or enforce a disaster contingency plan. MSQ has shown repeatedly that they are not equipped and/or capable of dealing with these frequent storms that ravage the southern Florida coast. The hurricane forecast can be found HERE.

As a result of hurricane Andrew in 1992, 5 sea lions were electrocuted when the pumping system in their pool flooded and over 60 sharks died of asphyxiation when silt laden bay water flooded the shark moat. But employees found five new baby peacocks, and a 50-pound baby manatee… so all was well.

In 2006, Miami Seaquarium re-opened after a storm surge from Hurricane Wilma dropped silt into low-lying exhibits, killing more than 1,000 fish and 15 sharks. Upon reopening, the park had even more fish, as curators collected more than 2,500 from Biscayne Bay and nearby reefs to replace the fish that died after the storm. “There’s twice as many fish as there were before Wilma,” Seaquarium curator Robert Rose said. Some of the new fish were donated, while Rose and other staff members went out on boats and donned scuba gear to do some of the collection themselves. Hertz said the storm cost $2.5 million in property damage and $4.4 million in lost revenue to the park. A nice little insurance claim. These disasters, natural or otherwise translate into a nice payday for MSQ and the Hertz’s. It all just comes at the expense of their marine life. CBS 4 reports HERE.


Miami Seaquarium Information:

Marine Exhibition Corp., Inc

dba Miami Seaquarium

4400 Rickenbacker Causeway

Miami, FL 33149


General Manager, Andrew Hertz (son of Wometco CEO Arthur Hertz)

From 1963 through 1967; 88 television episodes and two movies starring “Flipper” were filmed at MSQ. Richard O’Barry, former dolphin and orca trainer turned marine mammal activist, quit shortly after Hugo’s arrival stating that it was “ridiculous” to keep a grown killer whale in a tank that size. “Ric” O’Barry continues to advocate for Lolita’s retirement and return to her home waters.

The Miami Seaquarium is owned by:

Wometco Enterprises Inc. Headquarters

3195 Ponce DeLeon Blvd.

PO Box 141609

Coral Gables, FL 33134

Tel(305) 529-1400

Fax(305) 529-1466

900 employees

CEO: Arthur Herman Hertz (Father of MSQ General Manager, Andrew Hertz)

Wometco owns and operates amusement parks, theme parks and ice cream parlors. Through Subsidiaries operates Seaquarium (50%) and Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Parlors (50%)

Who is Arthur Hertz??

Arthur Herman Hertz

Born Sept. 10, 1933. University of Miami BBA

Home: 610 Fluvia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Home phone: 305-448-8425

This is the fellow giving the credit for all of Lolita’s abuse and neglect to US, the general public! As long as people buy tickets to see Lolita and to go into the Miami Seaquarium Lolita will remain a

SLAVE…. until she finally just gives up. As long as we make no attempt to address this issue, Lolita will remain in a state of distress and neglect.

Arthur Hertz is also-

*Chairman and CEO of Wometco Enterprises, Inc., a private company that owns the Miami Seaquarium®, Wometco de Puerto Rico, Inc.

*Owner/operator of 57 Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlors in Puerto Rico, and franchisee of Dunkin’ Donuts for Puerto Rico.

*Officer of Miami Wallscapes

*Seasoned real estate investor

*Chairman of the board of Theater Realty, Inc., Hertz-Brown Venture 167 Corp., and Sawgrass Investment Corp,

*Member of the University of Miami’s Board of Trustees, where he serves as the University’s representative to the DRIF board.

*Director of Diabetes Research Institute- We see how Lolita is treated, yet he plays an active role in helping humans!!!

*Active participant in numerous charitable causes and professional organizations throughout the South Florida community including:

Florida Tourism Commission

Visit Florida

Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation

Jackson Memorial Hospital Foundation


National Audubon Association

Orange Bowl Committee

Miami-Dade Public Health Trust

Miami Parking Authority

Arthur Hertz has been known to donate to organizations while leaving Lolita in a substandard sized tank for 40 years. Over $113,000.00 in Campaign Contributions in 2008 alone:

Joe Garcia for congress $9200

Schauer for congress $1000

Halvorson for congress $1000

Trauner for congress $1000

Act Blue $3000

Kagen 4 congress $1000

Obama $2300

Democratic congressional campaign committee $2500

Kosmas for congress $2300

Hoosiers for Hill $1000

Democratic senatorial campaign committee $6500

Wasserman-schultz for congress $4600

Zack space for congress $1000

Giffords for congress $1000

Raul Martinez for congress $4600

Carney for congress $1000

Lautenberg for senate $4600

Citizens for Harkin $500

Ros-Lehtinen for congress $1000

Tim Mahoney for Florida $4600

Klein for congress $4600

Democratic senatorial campaign committee $28500

John Kerry for senate $1000

DNC Service Corporation/Democratic National committee $43000

All of the above individuals allow Lolita to suffer in captivity while animal welfare laws and regulations are ignored.  Mr. Hertz has essentially bought their silence, inaction and ignorance.

In 2008, Mr. Hertz was honored by Public Relations Society of America with the Royal Palms Award.  These awards are presented to South Florida individuals who exemplify exceptional leadership and contributions to the public relations profession, the community, and education.

Arthur Hertz carries a $1,000,000 life insurance policy on Lolita. He has been offered this amount for Lolita’s freedom and to date; refuses the offer!

The Miami Seaquarium averages 2,000 visitors a day with Lolita being their star attraction. That’s approximately 730,000 people a year. At $35.95 an adult ticket and $26.95 a child’s ticket, that’s $22,958,500 a year, considering half the visitors are adults and half are children.

And this isn’t even taking into consideration the extra money they make on the swim with dolphin program, which they recently added at a cost of $5,000,000.

On top of that there are the food and beverage concessions, souvenirs, parking ($8 per car), photos as you enter, etc.

Lolita has helped the Miami Seaquarium earn approximately or even more than $895,381,500 in the 39 years she has been held captive there.

Yet Arthur Hertz refuses to let her free and he also refuses to build her a bigger tank!


Opponents of captivity for marine mammals have called for Lolita’s retirement and release from her pool at MSQ for years. Captured on August 8, 1970, from Penn Cove, Washington state and sent down to Florida to perform tricks for tourists, Lolita has resided in what is the smallest and oldest orca tank in the United States. The tank is merely one-and-a-half-times her size, has garnered numerous safety violations, and does not meet USDA/APHIS Regulations. Caring people have been trying to help Lolita for decades – writing letters, protesting, raising awareness – but Lolita’s captors are indifferent and uncaring, and they hide behind loopholes in the laws designed to protect our rare and valuable wild animals. Lolita, who is affectionately known as “Toki” (short for her true name, Tokitae – which means ‘shimmering water’ in Chinook), was captured right before implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act which helps protect her family members from being taken, although loopholes still exist in these laws. In 2005 the Southern Resident orcas were listed as endangered species. Because Lolita was caught ‘pre-act’, the powers-that-be excluded her from the status of endangered. Lolita’s family, including her mother, now believed to be 82 years old, still swim freely in the open waters where Lolita was captured. Because she was caught ‘pre-act’, the powers-that-be excluded her from the status of endangered. It’s time to return Lolita home, where her family awaits.

There are many wonderful people and organizations willing to work with the Miami Seaquarium, the Unified Commands’ Oil Spill Response efforts, local, state and federal officials and they are ready, willing and waiting to move forward with a rehabilitation, retirement and relocation plan for ALL their marine animals. Details of her retirement plan can be found here:

Campaigns to free Lolita:

Orca Network

2403 North Bluff Road

Greenbank WA 98253

(360) 678-3451

or toll-free at (866) ORCANET (672-2638) or email or visit:

Visit The Orca Project’s page on how YOU can help Lolita by clicking <HERE>.