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Free Lolita Update 143

Lolita Update #143
ESA case vs. Seaquarium heats up
January 20, 2016

Jill Hein 011615-4206Sshadow
Let's call her Toki.
In 1970 Dr. Jesse White, veterinarian for the Miami Seaquarium, traveled to Seattle to choose one of the orcas just caught in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island. He was instructed to pick out a female to be displayed along with a young male they had named Hugo, captured in Puget Sound WA in 1968. Dr. White chose an orca he described as "so courageous, but yet so gentle," and in honor of her Northwest home he called her "Tokitae," a coastal Salish native word meaning "Nice day, pretty colors." Soon after delivery the Seaquarium management renamed her "Lolita" but the trainers and staff there continued to call her Toki, which sounds more appropriate for her. She is accustomed to being called Toki, so now, with indications that a combination of changing public attitudes, questionable revenue prospects, and legal developments may actually bring her home some day soon, "Toki" sounds fitting and proper for her.

Years of legal efforts gaining serious traction.

Prospects are improving that Toki may return to her native waters, where she was born and raised, in the foreseeable future. A lawsuit is now pending against the Seaquarium for violations of the Endangered Species Act (Lolita became protected under the ESA in May, 2015). The case is set to be heard by a federal judge in Miami in late May, although that date could get pushed back or it could be pre-empted by mediation. Meanwhile, documents, interrogatories, and depositions are being exchanged and site inspections are now underway. This current legal progress is built on almost five years of legal filings, beginning with a suit in 2011 against SeaWorld for violating the 13th Amendment against slavery, a 2012 suit against the USDA for allowing violations of the Animal Welfare Act, a 2013 petition to OSHA to enforce restrictions against potentially dangerous in-water routines (which have now ended), and a 2012 petition to NOAA to include Toki under the Endangered Species Act. Hundreds of pages of meticulously drafted Complaints, Petitions, Testimonials, etc., etc., have been written and filed to bring us to this hopeful moment, offering real chances of legal traction to bring about a court mandate, or an agreement with the management, to finally return Toki to her native habitat with the potential of rejoining her family, the Southern Resident orcas.

Toki's retirement home awaits her.

Our hats are off to the team of dedicated attorneys who stepped up at no cost to Orca Network to engage in this protracted battle to create the legal leverage needed to return Toki to her home and family.

The Miami Seaquarium is for sale - again.

Since 2014 the Seaquarium has been owned by Palace Entertainment, based in Newport Beach California. Palace also owns 21 other tourist destinations across the US, making it the nation's largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers. Palace Entertainment, in turn, is owned by Madrid-based Parques Reunidos, owner and operator of 49 additional parks in Europe and North America. Parques, in turn, is owned by Arle Capital Partners, an investment firm that specializes in buying up corporations to resell them at a profit. Arle tried to sell Parques in 2010 for 2 billion Euros but dropped the process after receiving low bids. Apparently the bids have still not risen to the point of profitability, because after trying to sell Parques again in 2015, this month Arle called off the sale and decided to try to sell stock in the company, hoping private investors will come up with more than any single buyer would. Interestingly, the media stories mention the Seaquarium without explanation, hinting that that particular property has complicated the intended sale.

In other words, the ownership of the Seaquarium is up for grabs, and it's value does not seem to be rising.

Ways of Whales 2016 will be live-streamed January 23!

2016 WoW LG FlyerS

Ways of Whales Workshop
Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 - 9:30 - 4:30
in Coupeville on beautiful Whidbey Island, WA.
Ways of Whales 2016 on Facebook, with Registration form
Or, to go straight to Registration: Click HERE.

Learn about the wonders of Pacific Northwest whales!

Ways of Whales brings together the best researchers in the region to discuss cetaceans of the Salish Sea, how they are faring, and the latest research and actions to help cetaceans, their prey and their habitats.

This workshop is for anyone who loves whales and wants to learn more, with each session covering a different topic/species, and all presentations geared toward a diverse audience.

Ways of Whales Workshop 2016 will be streamed live to your computer. The link to livestream the workshop as it happens is: Ways of Whales Workshop, Jan. 23.

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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