Dear Friends of Lolita,
Please take a look at the letter below. As it describes, new documents have come to light that indicate that the medical pool part of Lolita's tank, which has been counted as part of the overall whale pool, is below the minimum depth. Please add your voice to convince the USDA to conduct new measurements to confirm the actual depth of the medical pool. The USDA should enforce the Animal Welfare Act.
In addition to the mailing address, here is other contact information:
Tel: (301) 734-4980, Fax: (301) 734-4328
June 22, 1999
W. Ron DeHaven
Deputy Administrator, APHIS
US Dept. of Agriculture
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
Dear Mr. DeHaven,
We have corresponded over the past few years in regard to the captive orca "Lolita" maintained at the Miami Seaquarium. I appreciate your prompt responses. I have discovered documents that indicate an error on the part of the USDA and the Seaquarium in regard to the depth of the whale tank. According to the architect's drawings from 1969, the year the tank was built, the depth of the main pool is only 18 ft., not 20 ft. as reported by the USDA and the Seaquarium. More germane to the legal status of the tank, however, is the medical pool, which has been counted in the overall dimensions by APHIS. This portion of the tank is only 10 ft. deep, not 12 ft. as reported.
You stated in a letter dated Dec. 31, 1998: "The depth of Lolita's pool ranges from 12 to 20 ft, which exceeds the AWA requirement of 12 ft." Unless the construction of the pool did not follow the architect's drawings, the pool ranges from 10 to 18 ft. in depth, and is less than the AWA requirement of 12 ft. Therefore the medical pool cannot be counted. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, Volume I, Section 3.104: "Those parts of the primary enclosure pool which do not meet the minumum depth requirement cannot be included when calculating space requirements for cetaceans."
The drawings are available for public viewing at the Miami-Dade County Building and Zoning Department, 111 NW 1st St., Miami, FL 33128, Ph: 305-375-2500. The architect was A. Herbert Mathes of Miami. The drawing in question is the vertical elevation of the scum gutter drawing. I have a copy, but the print is too light to fax or photocopy.
I request that you conduct further measurements of the whale tank, especially the depth of the medical pool. If it is in accord with the architect's drawing and is only 10 ft. deep, then I assume it will be necessary to reformulate the overall measurements, counting only the main tank. Since this tank measures 80 ft. by 35 ft., it is my understanding that the AWA requires that it be held unsuitable for containment of Lolita. Please provide documentation to explain the discrepancy between the architect's drawings and your measurements, or, if the drawings are correct, please use the power of your office to protect Lolita from this violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
cc: Sen. Bob Graham
Sec. of State Ralph Munro