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Free Lolita Update 144

Lolita Update #144
Judge avoids trial - dismisses ESA case
June 26, 2016

Jo Phillips banner
Shut Down Palace banner design by Jo Phillips.

Judge condemns Tokitae to continued incarceration
On June 1 United States District Judge Ursula Ungaro, a resident of Miami, summarily dismissed our suit against the Seaquarium for violations of the Endangered Species Act. Our case was dismissed without trial on the grounds that there is no violation of the ESA unless it can be shown that the protected animal is not just harmed or harassed, as clearly stated in the language of the ESA, but that she must be under "grave threat to her survival." Without doubt Lolita/Tokitae, is indeed under grave threat to her survival after more than four decades in a tiny tub, but regardless, the ESA does not require a grave threat to her survival to constitute harm or harassment. Judge Ungaro also decreed that the Animal Welfare Act supersedes the Endangered Species Act for captive animals. As I understand there is also no precedent in law to support Judge Ungaro's position that the AWA supersedes the ESA. The legal team at PETA and ALDF will probably appeal the ruling, but it will take at least a year to resolve these basic questions.

Legal efforts will continue.

We are also suing the USDA, again, for issuing an operating license to Palace Entertainment, the new owners of the Seaquarium, despite multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act. We sued before the theme park was sold and lost on the bizarre grounds that the agency was not required to review the legality of the facility before renewing the annual license. But even if they can rubberstamp the license each year to the original owner, that license cannot be legally transferred to a new owner, as it was, without a new review of the legality of the tank. The tank is in fact illegally small, Toki has no protection from the Miami sun, and she has no orca companionship. Those are three clear violations of the Animal Welfare Act. So we’re suing, again, but that will also take at least a year to come to a trial.

As always, the real battle is in the court of public opinion, and there, we're winning.

So given these setbacks in the court of law, we’re back to making the case for Lolita’s retirement to her native waters in the court of public opinion, and there, we’re winning. The Seaquarium itself isn’t a publicly traded company so we don’t have attendance or revenue figures for it, but, the stock value of a once powerful company called SeaWorld is in the dumpster, now at an all time low, and that’s a good indication of how the entire whale and dolphin display industry, including the Seaquarium, is doing. In the court of public opinion the industry is in decline.

SeaWorld stock price at an all time low June 24, 2016.

Demonstrations for Lolita have been taking place every weekend at the Seaquarium and at many of the 40 water parks in the US operated by Palace Entertainment, which now owns the Seaquarium.
Demonstration at Arle Capital in London, April 1, 2016.

In the UK, the office of Arle Capital, the investment house that owns the corporation that owns the Seaquarium, is being protested by amazing street theater demonstrators organized by Marine Connection, which generated a feature story in the Sunday Times of London all about Lolita: UK firm behind lonely Lolita’s captivity.
London Sunday Times article by Jonathan Leake Environment Editor
Published: 24 April 2016.

And there’s much more to come. The financials of the entire corporate conglomerate show they are steadily losing value, at least in part because they are selling tickets for people to watch enslaved whales and dolphins forced to do circus tricks. Those days are over, and those companies will have to adapt. The difficulties and hard choices involved in dismantling the entire industry shouldn't be underestimated, but captive whales and dolphins are becoming a liability for the companies that own them, and signs are becoming more clear that the industry is beginning to face their new problem. Last week the National Aquarium in Baltimore announced plans to move eight dolphins to an ocean sanctuary.

Toki's new home in her familiar Salish Sea waters awaits her arrival.
For a look at her complete retirement plan, click HERE.

Save the Date: August 7, 2016, at Penn Cove (where Toki was captured) in Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Washington, for the19th annual Capture Commemoration Event.
There will be an on the water ceremony to see the site of the capture, so feel free to bring boats and kayaks to join the flotilla. We will be showing the outstanding 1995 KOMO-TV documentary about Toki, called "Lolita - Spirit in the Water." We hope to have some of the producers of that documentary at the event to share how Toki's story has affected them. More information will come before the event.

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!
Howard Garrett
Susan Berta
Orca Network

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