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Free Lolita Update 101

Lolita Update #101
Protest Saturday, Dec. 6 for Lolita
November 14, 2008

Some of Lolita's family swim past Olympic Mountains

November 21, 2009, some of the 18 members of Lolita's family heading north into Haro Strait, toward San Juan Island, about 20 miles from where a bay pen is proposed for Lolita's retirement.

December 6th, Noon to 1:30 at the Miami Seaquarium.

A protest will be held at the entrance to the Miami Seaquarium on the Rickenbacker Causeway, Biscayne Bay, to raise awareness about Lolita. The last protest held on October 11, 2008 generated national media attention for the Orca, held captive for display at the park since 1970. A four minute segment was aired on CNN Headline news. (See Lolita on CNN).

Email Shelby Prioe for more information on the demonstration.

Shelby, in collaboration with Orca Network, invites fellow Miami residents and media to come out and support Lolita's retirement. We hope to see Lolita transported to a bay pen in her native Pacific Northwest waters where she will be taken care of for the rest of her life unless she chooses to rejoin her pod that resides in the same waters most months of every year.

She has been living in an illegal tank at the Seaquarium for the last 38 years, but now a swim with the dolphins program has become the main source of revenue for the park. This has added to the controversy about why she shouldn't be retired. The Seaquarium is not allowed and won't build her a bigger tank. No other marine park is likely to take Lolita because orcas are members of specific cultural communities (Lolita is a member of the L25 subpod of the Southern Resident clan). She probably would not adjust well to the presence of other captive orcas from different communities.

If retired she will initially reside in a generously sized bay pen where she will be fed, taken care of and slowly reintroduced back into the wild. After rehabilitation it will be her choice to continue to live in the pen, return occasionally for food and care, or leave to rejoin her pod.

The proposed route from Whidbey Island to San Juan Island. Lolita would be immersed in a towable pen to be slowly pulled to her retirement cove, where her staff would await her.

More on Lolita and her family at Orca Network.

In case you missed it, CNN Headline News showed a 4 minute segment about Lolita.

Shelby Proie CNN interview

More photos of the October 11 demo are at at Shelby's MySpace page


Letter to supporters of Lolita's retirement

Responses or inquiries are welcome. Please contact Orca Network.

InBev responds to our inquiry about Lolita

In September Orca Network wrote to InBev, the Belgian company that recently purchased Anheuser-Busch, which owns SeaWorld and nineteen orcas. We wrote:
When InBev bought Anheuser-Busch you made clear that you are not interested in retaining the theme parks, including the three SeaWorld parks. At this point we are not aware of a buyer for the parks or whether there is a possibility that the whales and dolphins currently held there might be dispersed to other parks or, in some cases, returned to their native habitats.

If there is any consideration of reintroducing or retiring any of SeaWorld's whales or dolphins to native habitats, whoever owns SeaWorld at that time will face a storm of criticism for even considering such a thing, despite the historical record and scientific literature that indicates good prospects for successful reintroductions. A successful return of a captive orca to her natural surroundings and actual family members would provide an example to convince the public that such an operation is justified and commendable.
In early November InBev wrote back:
With regards to your proposal, we appreciate your concerns, bu it is premature for InBev to discuss this at this stage. While we have reached an agreement to combine with Anheuser-Busch, the transaction is not yet completed. The transaction is still subject to Anheuser-Busch shareholder appproval and review by competition authorities in a number of jurisdictions. We hope to be able to close the transaction by the end of the year. Until the transaction closes, both Anheuser-Busch and InBev are operating as two separate companies. At the appropriate time, we will bring together the best of both companies' commitments to people, community and the environment into a global platform, a meaningful step forward in our goal of becoming the best beer company in a better world.
Well, the transaction is almost complete. A-B shareholders have consented to the deal, and the US Dept. of Justice signed off yesterday. We'll keep you up to date on further discussions.

Elections matter

Our historic election is now past and change is in the air! Hopefully change will also happen in the water. On January 20, 2009 a new President of the United States will assume the role of leader of our endangered nation.

Though the oceans are below us, as the fountain of all life on Planet Earth, if we consider marine life to be beneath our concern and interest, we risk continuing to do severe damage to our planet's ability to breathe and live.

We have hope that our new President understands this, and is aware of the overwhelming scientific knowledge telling us we need to change our ways to ensure a safe and viable home for all of Earth's inhabitants for generations to come.

So what does this have to do with Lolita, stranded in a Miami show pool since 1970? It has to do with her real home, the coastal and inland waters of the Pacific Northwest. She belongs there, and we, and her family, need her to help draw attention to the need to take care of it.

Also, the tank she has been kept in is illegal by the Animal Welfare Act of 1966. Since the AWA was enacted the marine park industry has had more influence than advocates for the animals, both in the drafting of regulations and their enforcement. The industry has esentially been left to govern itself and determine its own standards, and has been given the benefit of any lack of clarity in the law.

That would explain why the Seaquarium's illegal whale tank is tolerated by the USDA.

Section 3.128 of the AWA, Space Requirements, states:
Enclosures shall be constructed and maintained so as to provide sufficient space to allow each animal to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement. Inadequate space may be indicated by evidence of malnutrition, poor condition, debility, stress, or abnormal behavior patterns.
150 orcas have died in captivity, all of them in their youth or long before their average lifespan in the wild, but since Lolita has not become ill federal inspectors have concluded that there is no evidence that her space is inadequate. As the Humane Society of the US says:
Clearly, whatever the principal reason for their ranging patterns, confining cetaceans in a pool that is at best only six or seven times their body length guarantees a lack of aerobic conditioning and brings on the endless circling and stereotypical behaviors seen in other large carnivores in captivity. Such confinement is inhumane at a nearly inconceivable level.
Lolita is confined in a space less than twice her length in width. Section 3.128 says that the width of an enclosure for an orca or a dolphin must be at least twice the length of the animal. Lolita is about 22 feet long, and yet the tank is only 35 feet wide by 75 feet long and only 20 feet deep. Amazingly, the 20 foot depth is legal. The AWA actually allows an orca to be kept in a tank only 12 feet deep(!) which is the depth of the medical pool behind the slideout platform. So regulators simply add the dimension of that pool to the main pool to arrive at a legal measurement. This is clearly a strained interpretation of the law by an administration that tends to do favors for business owners and doesn't like regulations.

That may change on January 20, 2009. Of course there are far more pressing matters for the new administration to manage, but as new appointments are made and new governing philosophies enacted, there is a very real possibility that new administrators will be appointed who will honor the actual intent of the Animal Welfare Act, to guarantee the welfare of captive animals. Maybe they will have new interpretations of Section 3.128.

Much is going on to help bring Lolita home and to inform and advocate for her and her family Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to help Orca Network continue this work by clicking HERE. Thank you!

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