A Review of the Releasability
of Long-Term Captive Orcas


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This report has hopefully set out various lines of evidence that, taken together, show that a carefully planned and carried out rehabilitation program that leads to the options of releasing Lolita to rejoin her family or retirement in her native waters, entails no point at which there is any discernable risk to the orca's health or welfare, or to her family's. The "prototype" precedent is the nearly completed program to rehabilitate and release Keiko, with the exception that the facility in which Keiko regained his health would not be required for Lolita, since she is already relatively healthy, and her native waters are ideal for a seapen and available to her.

To summarize the points made:

Overall, the conclusion that follows from the above is that Lolita would be much better off if moved to her native waters in preparation for rejoining her family of birth. Quoting the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard concerning Keiko:

Lolita can return home and can probably be released to her family. The evidence shows that she can resume her place in the family relationships that are essential in the natural life of an orca.

  1. Introduction
  2. Survival rates in captivity
  3. Precedents
  4. Disease issues
  5. Foraging ability
  6. Social systems and bonds
  7. Communication
  8. Consciousness and memory
  9. Emotions
  10. Conclusions
  11. Recommendations
  12. Bibliography