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Free Lolita Update 138

Lolita Update #138
Lolita music video released
SeaWorld tanks
August 18, 2014

Let the Girl Go: Free Lolita
We are thrilled to announce that singer/songwriter, and now fellow Lolita activist, Robbyne Kaamil has a new song for Lolita, Let Lolita Go. After you hear the song a few times, scroll down to see Robbyne's insightful interview describing the similarities between Lolita's abduction from her family and Robbyne's own family's history as slaves. Both videos were professionally produced to bring out the power of Robbyne's message by Daniel Azarian of Underdog Entertainment in New York, who also produced (at no expense to the Lolita campaign) the haunting Save Lolita and A Day in the Life of Lolita, featuring Dr. Ingrid Visser.

This is not the first time orcas in captivity have been described as slaves. The now classic documentary Lolita - Slave to Entertainment presented the comparison with slavery in its title, and readers may recall in February 2012 when I joined Ric O'Barry, Ingrid Visser, Samantha Berg, and Carol Ray, as "next friends" in a lawsuit against SeaWorld for violation of the 13th Amendment against slavery. The case succeeded in presenting the notion to the general public, worldwide, that captive orcas are held in involuntary servitude, and now Robbyne Kaamil presents the case in song.

SeaWorld stock value tanks

Last Wednesday at the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange SeaWorld stock (SEAS) nose-dived in a vertical drop of 33% of its value. Analysts were shocked and dismayed and at a loss to explain the crash except for the negative publicity generated by the documentary Blackfish. In its first statement after the crash SeaWorld promised cost-cutting measures to improve dividends for stockholders, but speculation was rampant that there may be no way for SeaWorld to correct their course and become probitable again.

It appears that SW executives will be the last to see it's time to come up with a completely new business plan that does not include captive whales or dolphins. On Friday they announced the opposite. Instead of beginning to phase out captive whale shows they are doubling down on the very things the public is telling them they are doing wrong by announcing they will build new, bigger concrete tanks. However, the company is deeply in debt and with attendance and revenues dropping through the floor, financing such a grandiose expansion costing hundreds of millions of dollars for the same failing business model seems problematic. As Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite says, the changes won't please the public or improve the lives of its whales, so their revenues are not likely to improve. They're still in denial of the fact that people no longer want to pay to witness circus-like performances that they now understand are a kind of animal abuse.

This phrase is over-used, but for once it is appropriate: SeaWorld has a whale of a problem. The public will no longer pay to see whales in captivity. They also have a related problem that will make it harder for the company to rebuild support with any new attempt to shape public attitudes to survive the first problem: they've lost the public's confidence. They're simply no longer credible. The decades of arrogant domination of any conversation about captive orcas is finally coming to an end because nobody's buying it any more. The vertical drop of a third of the value of SeaWorld stock Wednesday is symbolic of their precipitous loss of credibility.

Given the public's new lack of support for SeaWorld's use of captive cetaceans, or belief in their claims, excuses, promises, and accusations, it will be very difficult for the company to solve their next two problems without forging partnerships with credible experts: What will SeaWorld do with the whales and dolphins in their possession if they no longer bring in sufficient revenues to pay for their upkeep, and what kind of business model can they devise that will provide a profitable return on investment in coming years?

The time is rapidly approaching when those of us who have studied cetacean biology and natural history over the years, and who have long considered alternatives to orca and dolphin captivity, will be called upon to provide advice and counsel to marine park industry executives to help them divest themselves of their whales and dolphins in the most responsible way possible, and to help them devise new, sustainable business models that do not involve holding marine mammals captive. Just as the marine circus industry must now adapt to shifting attitudes, so will we.

There are many potential locations and protocols for returning captive orcas to natural surroundings, and each captive whale and dolphin should be carefully assessed on a case by case basis, but as a model for how to return long-time captive orcas to real marine habitats, we offer Orca Network's PROPOSAL TO RETIRE THE ORCA KNOWN AS LOLITA TO HER NATIVE HABITAT IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST.

As a start of a conversation to help devise new business models for the marine park industry without the use of living whales and dolphins, a wide range of amazing interactive technologies could provide an entirely new kind of entertainment experience. Disney-style "imagineers" could be brought in and allowed to run wild. A fantastic marine life park could emerge, with all sorts of attractions to bring people into a truly educational experience of ocean realms, including simulated marine habitats in blue-green surroundings, with comfortably seated people moving along as divers, swooping and rising through ocean worlds, with sounds coming from all directions, blue whale thunder and humpback arias, sperm whale codas and orca calls fading in and out as fleeting images of all those cetaceans and a full panorama of marine flora and fauna glide or streak by. Undersea wildlife of all kinds could swim in and out of view, moving in all directions, depicted by real footage that could be enhanced with computer animation, holograms, virtual reality devices and/or animatronic robots, not to mention ethereal sounds and perhaps the occasional sea spray.

In other rooms real-time feeds from all over the world could show in special theaters, as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV's) send 3-D footage and stereophonic sounds, showing live actual humpbacks in Alaska or Hawaii, orcas in remote seas, dolphins in the Mediterranean or rare beaked whales off Madagascar, all presented in IMAX format, with sounds that rumble through the seats. Kids and adults could actually operate the AUV's as they watch and listen to the cetaceans and other marine life on screen, as pioneered by Robert Ballard of Woods Hole.

It could be a unique and fascinating park. A visitor could get lost in an appreciation of ocean worlds that has never before been possible. Environmental issues could be portrayed in ways that would be fascinating and clearly understood. The essential diversity of reef ecosystems and whole oceans could be beautifully and thrillingly demonstrated, and the value and mystery of immense mosaics of living forms and climate systems could be clearly shown.

So we have a whole new concept of the marine park of the future. Attendance and revenues at parks that hold whales and dolphins are in decline, while educational aquariums without cetaceans are becoming more popular, and the technology of experiential, interactive exhibitry is in full bloom. The public is starting to ask marine parks to release or retire the whales and dolphins in their care. As the animals are released and people become more aware of the true lives of whales and dolphins, they will want to learn even more about them, and about their ocean homes.

-Howard Garrett, Orca Network

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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