Dear Friends of Lolita,
As we reported last fall, the Seaquarium has been closed since October when hurricane Wilma blew across Florida from the southwest, delivering 116mph winds to Key Biscayne. Seawater poured over the park as trees, poles and fences blew down and debris piled up on every surface. The park announced that the storm caused $2.5 million in damage, and $4.4 million in revenue lost by closing for 16 weeks, during the height of Miami's tourist season. In addition, since 2003, when Russ Rector and Tim Gorski exposed massive electrical and safety code violations, the Seaquarium has been required to upgrade the park to the tune of $8.5 million. We don't know how much of that work got washed away by Wilma, but the financial squeeze on the park is obvious. Add to those woes that fact that attendance has been down for the past five years. It's no surprise that on February 7 the Miami Herald
- (Webmaster Note
: Links Dead) reported that:
"The bottom line has probably never mattered more to the Seaquarium, which plans to reopen Saturday after a 16-week closure brought on by Wilma's Oct. 24 assault. Attendance still hasn't recovered from the post-9/11 downturn, and the park has fallen almost $2 million behind in rent payments on its county-owned site while funding a costly three-year renovation effort."
The park has now cleaned up the muck, captured another thousand fish, birds and reptiles and repainted the walls. So it's back to business as usual. But now we know that this marine park, builT on a man-made island at sea level in Biscayne Bay in south Florida, is even more dangerous than we thought. Considering that global warming will intensify hurricanes well into the foreseeable future, it's clear that the USDA's APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) must immediately require the Seaquarium to relocate all marine mammals from the Florida coastline to a safer place. For Lolita the only safe place is her actual home and family, which is L pod of the Southern Resident orca community found along the coast of Washington State. Please consider writing a letter to the director of APHIS to strongly request that federal action be taken to remove Lolita from the dangers she faces each day at the Seaquarium. You can find a sample letter with address and email address Here
We don't have direct reports to know how Lolita has fared during this long hiatus, or whether caretakers have been working with her or keeping her company, but Miami TV news shows her apparently performing as usual yesterday. You can see the video
- (Webmaster Note
: Links Dead).
The same video clip shows a banner flying behind an airplane over the park, as it did all day Saturday and Sunday according to Tim Gorski, saying in bold letters: LOLITA IS DYING MIAMISEAPRISON.COM 954-830-3511.
Across the country, in Monterey, California, a Whale Fest was held and the Lolita table was a huge success! 2 banners made by kids for Lolita were on display. The links for the Monterey Whale Fest photos - of kids making Lolita banners is: - (Webmaster Note: Both Links Dead)
Howard Garrett, Susan Berta