Dear Friends of Lolita,
We have a sad update from the captive whale industry. Another captive orca has died. Marineland of Niagara Falls, Ontario has lost a second killer whale in less than three months. Hudson, at six years old, was found dead on Oct. 20, just two months after Neocia, 12-years old, was found dead in her pool.
This makes a total of six orcas that have died in captivity so far this year. The longest any of them lasted was 15 years. Two others died last year, and only three were born in the past two years, leaving the total now still alive in captivity at 46, which is down from over 50 just two years ago. So far, 138 have died in captivity since captures began in 1962.
They're dying faster than they are being born. If you do the math, it means the remaining days for captive orca amusement parks are numbered. For the past 15 years, capture attempts have been disasters. Thanks to all the groups and individuals working to stop the captures, there may soon be no more, worldwide.
The wonder is still that Lolita, in her late thirties at the Seaquarium, and Corky, about the same age at Sea World, are somehow still surviving. The problem remains that the owners of those parks don't really care about anything but revenue figures, and as long as they're making money they'll keep the survivors doing tricks.
With your help we'll continue doing all we can to bring Lolita home to her family.
PS: Below is a link to a news story about the founder of Sea World. Below the link is my letter to the editor about it.
October 3, 2004
A SeaWorld founder recounts both his park and his life's journey
The rest of the story wouldn't be appreciated by Sea World nor most of your San Diego readers I'm sure, but soon will be a part of Sea World's image, much like ear-biting is now part of Mike Tyson's image. I'm referring to the way Shamu was caught, and the capture of another 45 whales from her family, and a like amount from Icelandic waters and elsewhere.
Shamu's mother was the target of the harpoon that was intended to just stick in Shamu's mother to drag her in, but it killed her. Or rather she opened her blowhole and drowned rather than die a slow painful death. Baby Shamu was helpless, and was netted and dragged in instead. She didn't get along with Namu, because he was from a completely different clan and community, but nobody knew about family and community identity in killer whales back then.
But now we know. Family ties are for life among orcas, and they show every sign of operating according to the culture into which they were born, which determines diet, reproduction, movements and in fact virtually all facets of behavior. As Dr. John Ford of Canada Fisheries says: orca social systems are without parallel except in humans.
All but one of the original 45 caught from Puget Sound were dead by 1987. Only Corky (at San Diego Sea World) and Lolita, at the Miami Seaquarium, are still alive of all those captured in the Pacific. Captivity not only dismembers the family and community, as it would our own, but it soon kills the whales.
Mr. Millay doesn't want to know about those things, but they are true, and the truth will catch up to Sea World.
Thank you for your story.