Press Coverage of the “Walk for Lolita” at Miami Seaquarium
Activists say Miami Seaquarium killer whale Lolita should go free
This is the video from the walk.
Activists say Miami Seaquarium should free Lolita
Killer whale at park since 1970 capture
By Susannah Bryan
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
August 8 2009, 7:57 PM EDT
KEY BISCAYNE – It’s a long way from Puget Sound.
But that is where Lolita the killer whale belongs, say more than 30 animal activists who protested Saturday at the Miami Seaquarium.
Instead, she spends her days in a concrete tank flipping for crowds at the popular marine park.
“Every week one of us goes in to check on her,” said Shelby Proie, 24, a Nova Southeastern University student who helped organize the protest. “I go to the tank and tell her we’re trying to get her out.”
Lolita, the park’s 7,000-pound star attraction, has been here since her capture in 1970.
“She’s not going anywhere,” said Michelle Palomino, a spokeswoman for the park.
Lolita, hand-fed daily for the past 39 years, could not survive on her own in the ocean, Seaquarium General Manager Andrew Hertz said in a written statement.
“Lolita is very special and dear to us and she will continue to be an ambassador for her species from her home at Miami Seaquarium,” Hertz said.
Leading the protest Saturday was Ric O’Barry, the Coconut Grove dolphin trainer turned activist who stars in The Cove, a documentary released Friday about the slaughtering of dolphins in Japan.
O’Barry doesn’t believe Lolita should be released into the wild, but rather transferred to a natural sea pen in Puget Sound where she might reunite with her marine family.
“It’s about retiring Lolita and letting her live out the rest of her life in quiet and dignity,” said O’Barry, a former Seaquarium trainer who has campaigned against using dolphins in marine parks. “But they’re going to milk every dollar out of her before she dies.”
Lolita typically performs two shows a day. Park managers estimate her age at 42 to 45 years.
Activists claim she spends most of the time resting lifelessly on the bottom of the tank, bored.
“After the show, the orca just goes and sits in the corner,” said Simon Hutchins, of Fort Lauderdale, who appears in The Cove as expedition director for the Oceanic Preservation Society. “It’s a nightmare for this orca.”
Lolita, who is 21 feet long, lives in a tank 20 feet deep at the deepest point.
Park officials say her tank meets industry standards. Critics counter it’s too small.
Parkgoer Julian Royal, of West Palm Beach, doesn’t buy the notion that dolphins and orcas like Lolita are miserable in captivity.
“They seem to be [happy],” Royal said before entering the park with daughter Sarah, 11.
His reaction did not surprise O’Barry, who figures Royal had not seen his film. If so, he may have thought twice about coming, he said.
“People believe orcas should live in concrete tanks and do stupid dolphin tricks. The Cove is going to change that.”
Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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Please be sure to comment on the article an send a “Thank You” letter to the editor for covering this cause. The more intersted we are in this issue to the more the paper will continue to follow our efforts to retire Lolita.
For more pictures of the walk you can visit www.myspace.com/saveouroceansnow and click “pics” then “walk for Lolita”