lolitalone

HOW TO FIGHT FOR LOLITA’S RETIREMENT

Below are SAMPLE LETTERS TO APHIS ADMINISTRATORS

Thank you for caring about Lolita! Together we can fight to let her retire with her family in Puget Sound!

We need to send letters both to APHIS, the U.S. government agency that’s supposed to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, and to the USDA, which oversees APHIS. A total of six letters should be sent to help retire Lolita based on the Miami Seaquarium’s violations of the Animal Welfare Act: three letters to APHIS officials and three letters to USDA officials.

To send the USDA letters, please follow these steps:

1. Copy the following USDA letter into your word processor.
2. At the end of the letter, fill in your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
3. At the top of the letter, copy in one of the following USDA contacts and place his or her name on the “Dear [NAME]” line.
4. Copy the completed letter into your email program, and copy up the email address for the contact to whom you’re sending the letter.
5. Send the letter.
6. Repeat Steps 3, 4, and 5 for each USDA contact.

The letter below should be sent to three USDA officials:

Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 200-A
Washington, DC 20250
(202)720-3631 [Phone]
(202)720-2166 [Fax]
agsec@usda.gov

Edward Avalos
Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 228-W
Washington, DC 20250
(202)720-4256 [Phone]
(202)720-5775 [Fax]
ed.avalos@osec.usda.gov

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 202-B
Washington, DC 20250
(202)720-6052 [Phone]
(202)690-2119 [Fax]
kathleen.merrigan@osec.usda.gov

Dear [NAME]:

I’m writing to urge you to ensure that APHIS in your department enforces the Animal Welfare Act as it pertains to Lolita, the orca whale residing in the Miami Seaquarium. Unfortunately, APHIS has for several decades refused to enforce this law, leaving Lolita trapped in miserable conditions.

Orcas are highly intelligent and social marine mammals that typically swim 75-100 miles a day and repeatedly dive to several hundred feet. But Lolita is alone, is constantly exposed to intense low-latitude sunlight with no shelter, and cannot swim any distance in a pool that is not as deep as she is long.

Lolita has spent over 40 years at the Miami Seaquarium in an inhumanely undersized tank with no shade to protect her from direct sunlight and no protection from the weather, including hurricanes. Her exposure to sun and weather violates Section 3.103(3)(b) of the Animal Welfare Act.

In addition, Lolita’s tank, which is the smallest orca tank in North America, is only 35 feet long from the edge of the pool to the trainer’s platform; this is 13 feet shorter than is required by the Animal Welfare Act (Section 3.104). Even if, as specified in subsection (1)(i), the minimum horizontal dimension is reduced by 20% so that the required dimension is only 38.4 feet, the actual dimensions of the tank still fall 3.4 feet short of the minimum. Lolita is 22 feet long and weighs over 7,000 pounds. Her tank is incredibly confining for a marine mammal of her size.

Lolita’s captivity also violates several other provisions of the Animal Welfare Act:

• Lolita’s pool does not meet the perimeter fence requirements to keep animals and unauthorized people out, nor does it protect her from abuse and harassment by the public. [Sections 3.103(3)(c) and 3.101(2)]
Lolita has not been in the company of another orca since 1980. This highly social marine mammal is subjected to this solitude in the unfounded belief that her dolphin tank mates are an acceptable replacement for a member of her own species. Only a related family member would be appropriate as Lolita’s companion. [Section 3.109]
Nonfood objects are used in Lolita’s pool for entertainment, which may subject her to injury through ingestion. [Section 3.101(2)(g)]
• South Florida is subject to intense hurricanes, yet there is no emergency contingency plan on record, as required. [Section 3.101(4)(b)]

Lolita is unique among all the captive orcas in North America in her potential to be returned to her orca family in her native waters. Lolita was captured in Puget Sound from the Southern Resident community of orcas, which is the most intensively and comprehensively researched cetacean population worldwide. She is a member of the L pod, and her mother is still alive. This orca community has intense, lifelong matrilineal bonds: the orcas never leave their mothers, forming large family groups with complex social systems. Lolita continues to make the unique calls of her L25 subpod, named for its 82-year-old matriarch. Her family pod still lives in Puget Sound. Because Lolita was old enough at capture to have learned how to catch fish and still speaks her pod’s dialect, there is every reason to believe that she can be successfully reintegrated with her family in Puget Sound. And although at age 43 she may be the oldest surviving captive orca in the world, she is still a young, healthy adult; in the wild her potential lifespan will be much longer than it will be in captivity.

For these reasons, the Orca Network, with the assistance of the Center for Whale Research, has proposed a plan to retire Lolita from the Miami Seaquarium, reintroduce her to Puget Sound, and reintegrate her with her family. Lolita will be transported to an ocean sea pen in a protected San Juan Island cove that offers both abundant salmon and immediate access to her family pod. The bolts to hold her sea pen nets are already installed in this cove. She will be fed and taken care of by humans while being reacclimated to life in the wild with supervised open-water swimming and interaction with her pod and extended family. If she decides to rejoin her pod, that will be the ideal outcome; if not, she will be lovingly cared for by humans while living the rest of her life in a natural environment with plenty of room to forage and play.

The owners of the Miami Seaquarium have been begged for decades to release Lolita to whale scientists who can reacclimate her to Puget Sound and reunite her with her orca family. The Seaquarium owners have adamantly refused to consider this. Instead they have kept her alone in her sunbaked tiny pool, where most of her time is spent floating listlessly with no social interaction.

Please tell APHIS to shut down the Miami Seaquarium orca show and insist that its owners retire Lolita and release her to those who are ready to bring her home to Puget Sound.

For more information about how the Miami Seaquarium’s captivity of Lolita violates the Animal Welfare Act, please see http://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/lolita-the-orca-her-life-her-legal-issues-and-her-way-home.

For more information about the Orca Network’s proposed retirement plan for Lolita, please see http://www.orcanetwork.org/captivity/2007proposaldraft.html.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss Lolita.

Regards,

[NAME]
[ADDRESS]
[PHONE]
[EMAIL]

=======

To send the APHIS letters, please follow these steps:


1. Copy the following APHIS letter into your word processor.
2. At the end of the letter, fill in your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
3. At the top of the letter, copy in one of the following APHIS contacts and place his or her name on the “Dear [NAME]” line.
4. Copy the completed letter into your email program, and copy up the email address for the contact to whom you’re sending the letter.
5. Send the letter.
6. Repeat Steps 3, 4, and 5 for each APHIS contact.

The letter below should be sent to three APHIS officials:

Betty Goldentyer, DVM
Eastern Regional Director
USDA—APHIS Animal Care
920 Main Campus Drive, Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27606
(919)855-7100 [Office]
(919)855-7123 [Fax]
betty.j.goldentyer@usda.gov

Chester A. Gipson
Deputy Administrator, Animal Care
USDA—APHIS
4700 River Road
Riverdale, MD 20737
(301)734-4980 [Office]
(301)734-4993 [Fax]
chester.a.gipson@usda.gov

Nicolette A. Petervary, VMD
Regional Animal Care Specialist
USDA—APHIS, Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Animal Care
920 Main Campus Drive, Suite 200
Eastern Regional Office, Raleigh, NC 27606
(919)855-7101 [Office]
(919)855-7123 [Fax]
nicolette.petervary@aphis.usda.gov

Dear [NAME]:

I’m writing to urge you to inspect the Miami Seaquarium for at least six likely violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

As you are surely aware, Lolita has been residing since her 1970 capture in the Miami Seaquarium in what cetacean experts consider inadequate conditions. Orcas are highly intelligent and social marine mammals that typically swim 75-100 miles a day and repeatedly dive to several hundred feet. But Lolita is alone, is constantly exposed to intense low-latitude sunlight with no shelter, and cannot swim any distance in a pool that is not as deep as she is long.

Lolita has spent over 40 years at the Miami Seaquarium in an inhumanely undersized tank with no shade to protect her from direct sunlight and no protection from the weather, including hurricanes. Her exposure to sun and weather violates Section 3.103(3)(b) of the Animal Welfare Act.

In addition, Lolita’s tank, which is the smallest orca tank in North America, is only 35 feet long from the edge of the pool to the trainer’s platform; this is 13 feet shorter than is required by the Animal Welfare Act (Section 3.104). Even if, as specified in subsection (1)(i), the minimum horizontal dimension is reduced by 20% so that the required dimension is only 38.4 feet, the actual dimensions of the tank still fall 3.4 feet short of the minimum. Lolita is 22 feet long and weighs over 7,000 pounds. Her tank is incredibly confining for a marine mammal of her size.

Lolita’s captivity also violates several other provisions of the Animal Welfare Act:

• Lolita’s pool does not meet the perimeter fence requirements to keep animals and unauthorized people out, nor does it protect her from abuse and harassment by the public. [Sections 3.103(3)(c) and 3.101(2)]
Lolita has not been in the company of another orca since 1980. This highly social marine mammal is subjected to this solitude in the unfounded belief that her dolphin tank mates are an acceptable replacement for a member of her own species. Only a related family member would be appropriate as Lolita’s companion. [Section 3.109]
Nonfood objects are used in Lolita’s pool for entertainment, which may subject her to injury through ingestion. [Section 3.101(2)(g)]
• South Florida is subject to intense hurricanes, yet there is no emergency contingency plan on record, as required. [Section 3.101(4)(b)]

Lolita is unique among all the captive orcas in North America in her potential to be returned to her orca family in her native waters. Lolita was captured in Puget Sound from the Southern Resident community of orcas, which is the most intensively and comprehensively researched cetacean population worldwide. She is a member of the L pod, and her mother is still alive. This orca community has intense, lifelong matrilineal bonds: the orcas never leave their mothers, forming large family groups with complex social systems. Lolita continues to make the unique calls of her L25 subpod, named for its 82-year-old matriarch. Her family pod still lives in Puget Sound. Because Lolita was old enough at capture to have learned how to catch fish and still speaks her pod’s dialect, there is every reason to believe that she can be successfully reintegrated with her family in Puget Sound. And although at age 43 she is the oldest surviving captive orca in the world, she is still a young, healthy adult; in the wild her potential lifespan will be much longer than it will be in captivity.

For these reasons, the Orca Network, with the assistance of the Center for Whale Research, has proposed a plan to retire Lolita from the Miami Seaquarium, reintroduce her to Puget Sound, and reintegrate her with her family. Lolita will be transported to an ocean sea pen in a protected San Juan Island cove that offers both abundant salmon and immediate access to her family pod. The bolts to hold her sea pen nets are already installed in this cove. She will be fed and taken care of by humans while being reacclimated to life in the wild with supervised open-water swimming and interaction with her pod and extended family. If she decides to rejoin her pod, that will be the ideal outcome; if not, she will be lovingly cared for by humans while living the rest of her life in a natural environment with plenty of room to forage and play.

The owners of the Miami Seaquarium have been begged for decades to release Lolita to whale scientists who can reacclimate her to Puget Sound and reunite her with her orca family. The Seaquarium owners have adamantly refused to consider this. Instead they have kept her alone in her sunbaked tiny pool, where most of her time is spent floating listlessly with no social interaction.

Please inspect the Miami Seaquarium, shut down its orca show, and insist that its owners retire Lolita and release her to those who are ready to bring her home to Puget Sound.

For more information about how the Miami Seaquarium’s captivity of Lolita violates the Animal Welfare Act, please see http://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/lolita-the-orca-her-life-her-legal-issues-and-her-way-home.

For more information about the Orca Network’s proposed retirement plan for Lolita, please see http://www.orcanetwork.org/captivity/2007proposaldraft.html.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss Lolita.

Regards,

[NAME]
[ADDRESS]
[PHONE]
[EMAIL]

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