Dear Friends of Lolita,
Susan and I just returned from the streetside demonstration for Lolita (Southern resident community orca captured in 1970) held from Noon to 1 January 21 in front of the Miami Seaquarium. We saw the show on Sunday, and Lolita (Tokitae) seems to be in good health and is performing her routine as usual.
Orca Network and ARFF (Animal Rights Foundation of Florida) combined to organize the event. Spirits were high and all went very well. The lead story on the Miami NBC station made the crucial points that recent science has revealed that family bonds are for life in Lolita's family and she is to this day a member of the Southern community, that she still uses unique calls that only her family uses, and that we now know that orcas in captivity live less than half normal life spans.
The ABC channel made the additional point that unlike the Keiko project, researchers know Lolita's family's whereabouts almost year around. Two Hispanic stations also covered the demo on the evening news. Four "friends of Lolita" went inside the park during the demo, and at the appropriate moment during the sea lion show (since the whale show had been rescheduled), they stood up, revealed their Free Lolita T-shirts and began educating the audience about why Lolita should be allowed to go home. The scene was caught on video and broadcast on Miami's NBC Channel 6.
The most important news reported by NBC6 was that the Seaquarium has put plans to build a new tank for Lolita on hold indefinitely, because they "don't have the cash," due to recent drops in tourism. For more than 15 years the Seaquarium has been promising to build a new whale tank, and this is the first time they've admitted that the $17.5 million construction cost is not economically possible.
Thanks to all who have supported Lolita's homecoming for helping make the event possible, and to all of you out there who have worked with us to get the word out about Lolita's situation, and special thanks to Judy Lochrie of Seattle for flying out to join in this demonstration with us, and to Chris and Leslie Breen and friends for all their help and courage!
Photos from the event
Howard and Susan