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Free Lolita Update 146

Lolita Update #146
Seaquarium secrets exposed
August 31, 2016

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Nationwide Rallies to Retire Lolita

Please join Orca Network for a Rally to Retire Lolita on September 3, 2016 in Coupeville. The purpose of this event is to draw public attention to Lolita’s plight and urge Palace Entertainment, who acquired the Miami Seaquarium nearly two years ago, to act in Lolita’s best interest and retire her to a coastal sanctuary/seapen. The September 3rd rally will take place from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the intersections of Highway 20 and Main Street in Coupeville. Bring posters and banners; Orca Network will also have some available for use. For more information please contact Cindy Hansen at

Simultaneous “Shut Down Palace” rallies will be held at seven Palace-owned water parks across the United States. For more information about the Shut Down Palace rallies, go to or contact Wendy King at

In August 1970 over 100 Southern Resident orcas were herded into Penn Cove off Whidbey Island, WA. Seven of the young whales were taken from their families and delivered to marine parks around the world. All but one had died by 1987. Lolita, originally named Tokitae, was sent to the Miami Seaquarium where she has spent the last 46 years living and performing daily in the smallest orca tank in North America with no shade from the sun and no other orca companionship.

In May of 2015, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) designated Lolita as “endangered” as she is part of the endangered Southern Resident orca community of the Pacific Northwest. This status, in view of her inhumane treatment at the Miami Seaquarium and multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act, should allow her to come home. There is a safe and sound rehabilitation plan for Lolita in place by the best marine scientists in the country. A protected sea pen waits for her, with a staff ready to monitor her 24/7 and help her transition back into the ocean so she can once again swim free, catch her own food, dive freely at will, and communicate with her pod that still inhabits the area. For this to happen, Palace Entertainment must accept the comprehensive retirement plan proposed by Orca Network or be court ordered to release her. Read Lolita’s story and learn about her retirement plan at

AUGUST 18th, 2016 - Court unseals secret expert reports on Lolita's health and welfare

Background: In May, 2015, after three years of legal wrangling, PETA, ALDF, and Orca Network convinced NOAA Fisheries to include Lolita as a member of her family, the Southern Resident killer whales, a protected orca population under the Endangered Species Act. Within weeks we sued the Seaquarium for violating the ESA prohibitions against "harm or harassment" of protected animals. On June 1, 2016, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro dismissed the case without trial on the grounds that the Animal Welfare Act supersedes the ESA for captive animals, and that there is no violation of the ESA unless it can be shown that Lolita is not just harmed or harassed, as the law states, but she must be under “grave threat to her survival.” We are appealing the ruling, and Toki’s legal team is also suing the USDA - again - this time for issuing an operating license to Palace Entertainment, the new owner of the Seaquarium, despite multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Photo by Ingrid Visser=
Lolita/Tokitae, about 21' long, performs full breaches in water only 20' deep. Photo by Ingrid Visser.

So after a year of discoveries, depositions, site inspections, attempted mediation, and the submission of expert witness testimony by four authorities in related studies, the case will now go to an appellate court. But August 18, on her own accord, Judge Ungaro unsealed a few of the records in our case against the Seaquarium, including the investigative reports from our four expert witnesses, meaning that the judge has made them public documents. The Miami Seaquarium fought to keep them from the public, but the judge unsealed them anyway. The four expert witness reports were can be found here:

Maddalena Bearzi, Ph.D., Ocean Conservation Society, Pres.
Dr. Pedro Javier Gallego Reyes, DVM
John Hargrove, author, Beneath the Surface
Ingrid Visser, Ph.D, Orca Research Trust

Photo by Ingrid Visser=
Close inspection of Toki's teeth show one possibly infected tooth. Photo by Ingrid Visser.

PETA posted 12 Things Lolita Would Want Miami Seaquarium Visitors to Know on the objective facts referenced in the reports.

The online magazine The Dodo also published an article titled World's Loneliest Orca Is So Sick She Can Barely Even See based on the content of the reports (although her vision has not been found to be quite so impaired).

And, Seattle NPR affiliate KUOW spoke with Orca Network co-founder Howard Garrett to discuss the many alarming details revealed in the reports about her conditions.

Photo by Ingrid Visser=
A dolphin appears to harass Lolita/Tokitae after the show. Photo by Ingrid Visser.

As explained in the reports, it is important to note that she is not too sick to be returned to her home water, and in fact immersion in her native habitat, while gradually tapering off the medical treatments as they become unnecessary, is the only course of treatment that would be therapeutic and likely to provide her recovery to good health.

These expert witness reports are factual accounts of all the evidence gathered from the discovery, depositions and site inspections. The opinions offered as to Lolita/Tokitae's physical and mental health are based on that evidence. It's important to add that these ailments are caused by her confinement in a cramped space for so long, and the constant harassment by the Pacific white-sided dolphins. Her eye problems were first diagnosed in the 1980s and are not known to have seriously worsened, and only one tooth seems to have been drilled. Her medications are to treat low level infections and stress. If and when she is returned to her familiar home waters, the exercise and stimulation, and the healing effects of natural seawater, will improve her health, and the emotional benefits of returning to her home and eventually communicating with her family are likely to bring her great relief, further improving her metabolic, cardiovascular, and emotional health.

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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