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Free Lolita Update Background

The background story: In 1970 a capture team using speedboats and airplanes and lobbing explosives forced a group of female and young Southern Resident orcas into a narrow cove. The other members of the Southern Resident orca community soon followed, where all 96 orcas were corralled. The young ones were shipped to marine parks around the world. One, first called Tokitae, was delivered to the Miami Seaquarium. She was given a new name, "Lolita," and against all odds she has survived these many years in a tiny tank that is illegal by the letter of the Animal Welfare Act. Lolita's longevity in a tank is extraordinary even by orca standards. All the other 44 captive Southern Resident orcas were dead by 1987. Studies have shown that orcas in captivity live far less than half their normal lifespan.

Working with others around the globe, we've made a lot of progress toward convincing people that it is simply wrong to confine large, family-bonded, long-lived and far-ranging whales to bathtub-sized tanks. Captures have effectively ended worldwide.

The deeper problem all along has been to convince people that orcas are capable of returning to their home habitat, IF they are also returned to their families. Orcas are much stronger and far more advanced and capable than is generally understood. Their strength is partly due to their cultural traditions and family bonds, and the durability of those memories. By returning Lolita to her family she could regain the strength that comes from rebuilding those lifelong family bonds.

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Howard Garrett

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