Dear Friends of Lolita,
Many of you have seen the news about Kyuquat, the orca at San Antonio Sea World who attacked his trainer on Friday. This incident demonstrates one of the many, many reasons whales and dolphins should not be held in captivity, even those who are captive born such as Kyuquat.
Kyuquat was born at SeaLand Victoria in 1991, to Tillikum and Haida2. Interestingly, Tillikum and Haida2, along with another orca, Nootka4, were involved in an incident at SeaLand Victoria in 1991 which resulted in the drowning of trainer Keltie Byrne. Trainers had never been in the pool with these orcas before, and when Keltie slipped and fell into the pool, she was dragged into the pool and repeatedly submerged by the whales until she drowned. Tillikum was known to be aggressive, and was later moved to Sea World Orlando, where he was basically kept for breeding and trainers were kept away from him. In 1999, a man sneaked into SeaWorld and hid until after hours. He was found dead the next morning in Tillikum's tank, his naked body draped across Tillikum's back.
However, in the wild, there are no confirmed incidents of orcas harming or attacking humans. In captivity, the whales are confined to small tanks, isolation, or being paired or held with whales from other communities. They are unable to hunt for food, socialize naturally, swim any distance, or dive. This leads to depression, aggression, suicide, and incidents such as the above. Hugo, the male orca from the Southern Resident Community who was Lolita's tank-mate when she first arrived at the Miami Seaquarium, was known to be aggressive and repeatedly banged his head against the side of the tank. He once broke a viewing window and sliced his rostrum, and eventually died of a brain anneurism, likely from the repeated head-banging.
There are dozens of incidents involving trainers and orcas held in captivity. (go to:http://www.angelfire.com/gu/orcas/attack.html
But the whales are not the ones at fault here. I would be aggressive if I were taken from my family, held in a bathtub, and forced to live with another species and perform tricks for food, wouldn't you? The captive situation is not natural or healthy for whales and dolphins - their habitat and social community structures cannot be replicated. These are very large, active, and intelligent, sentient beings, not cuddly domestic animals to be used for human enjoyment or income. Whales do not belong in tanks, even captive-born whales such as Kyuquat - they need room to swim 100 miles a day, to socialize, mate and relate with other orcas of their natural community and culture. Humans are playing a very dangerous game by trying to make these amazing, awesome beings something they are not.
This is why we have fought for Lolita's release from the Miami Seaquairum for years, and why we will keep fighting for her freedom. She has performed in her tiny tank for 34 years, and it is time to let her retire and come home to her family in Washington. To learn more about Lolita, visit our website Lolita page
or attend our annual Penn Cove Orca Capture Anniversary event on August 8th in Coupeville, Whidbey Island, WA at the site of Lolita's capture. To learn more about the effects of captivity on whales and dolphins, go to: Captivitystinks
- (Webmaster Note
: Dead Link).
Join us in working to bring Lolita home, and in working to put an end to the marine park industry which is dangerous and harmful to both whales and humans.
Susan Berta & Howard Garrett