in 2010, a tragic event occurred at Seaworld Orlando. Tilikum, the largest Orca to be in captivity, attacked, mauled, and killed senior trainer Dawn Brancheau during an afternoon “Dine with Shamu” show in front of a traumatized audience. Ever since this horrific event, a lot of legal issues have arisen from the practice of waterworks, where trainers enter the water and swim with the captive killer whales. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has gotten involved, and currently there is still continuing court issues going on right now. Since Dawn’s death, waterworks has been stopped at all three Seaworld parks. Regulations for preventing them from entering the water have also been placed.
Despite this, the Miami Seaquarium continues to put its trainers at risk by allowing them to swim with Lolita during shows. ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund) has sent a letter to OSHA arguing that the “General Duty Clause” should apply to all US marine parks, not just Seaworld. Along with this, the letter also requests that OSHA looks into safety regulations at the Seaquarium, and pleads that they ensure that the Miami Seaquarium maintains a safe distance between trainers and Lolita during shows.
Waterworks are nothing but dangerous stunts to please the crowds. There is no benefit for the Orcas by having a trainer dive into their tank and stand on their backs. This practice is not only highly dangerous to trainers and puts them at a risk for severe injury and death, it also is degrading to the animal. To stand on the nose of an Orca, or ride on their back screams human domination. There is no educational value to this, and all in all, waterwork is just downright illogical. The top predator of the ocean should be treated just that, not as a cuddly teddy bear, because people have and will get hurt from it.
Most of you by now know that Lolita was stolen from er family in the waters of the Pacific Northwest over 4 decades ago. These brutal practices have been since criticized by both anti-cap activists, Orca scientists, and even some captivity supporters. Thankfully, the public outcry that occurred from these captures in the 60′s and 70′s caused legal action to come about, and capturing dolphins and Orcas for entertainment purposes have since been banned in the United States. However, this does not mean that wild captures don’t still happen. In 2012, three Orcas were captured in Russia, and 2 have since died, leaving only one left. Her name is Narnia, and she’s currently in a Russian holding facility awaiting her permanent captive home as an entertainer. Her capture was an experiment. Russia soon issued a permit to capture 10 wild Orcas in their waters each year. Now, two more rounds of captures have occurred, and now there are currently 8 Orcas at the Russian facility. Different sources have released details about the captures, and what you read, you won’t be happy with. You can find the whole article here, but you’ll have to manually translate it using an online translator. Here’s one particular bit that is most concerning:
Ingrid Visser is one of the most highly respected and credible Orca researchers in the scientific world. She is the founder of the Orca Research Trust, an organization that is dedicated to protecting and studying Orcas, particularly the New Zealand population. Along with making groundbreaking scientific discoveries, Ingrid is also highly involved in promoting the anti-captivity agenda. She recently has traveled to Miami to pay a visit to Lolita and check up on her situation.
This video that Ingrid published gives insight into what Lolita’s life in solitary confinement is really like. Please watch this video in order to educate yourself, as well as share so that others can become more aware of why Lolita needs to be rehabilitated and released back into her family and natural habitat in the wild. Her cause is nothing without support from people like you, so please speak out for her!
Macy’s is apparently falling behind the times and endorsing SeaWorld through a sea-themed float in this Thanksgiving Day Parade. This decision is outraging people worldwide because the truth and suffering behind keeping cetaceans in captivity has recently been brought to public attention due to numerous documentaries and books such as “The Cove”, “Blackfish”, and “Death at SeaWorld”. Please take a few minutes to sign the petition against the float and contact Macy’s via their Facebook page and Corporate headquarters. Most of all, share this information with friends and family. If we all join together we can urge Macy’s to stop promoting exploitation and domination to the millions of children and families who watch the parade each year. Also, consider donating to OPS so they can send a copy of “The Cove” to everyone at Macy’s corporate headquarters. You can also read an article on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Charade here.
On October 10th, there was yet another protest outside of the gates of the infamous Miami Seaquarium, rallying for Lolita’s release. The turnout was great, and there were a lot of energetic and optimistic participators. View a video of the protest here.
Protesting outside of the Seaquarium is vital to the cause, as having people at the physical site creates an idea of how much people really do oppose how Lolita is being treated. Protests also help to generate awareness about her plight to the many unknowing passerby’s that come by the Seaquarium each day. Even if the tourists continue to pass through the gates and pay for their ticket, the seed has been planted that there is a possibility of something not being right. That in itself is enough to change one’s way of thinking. The very best tool we have for freeing Lolita and ending Orca captivity in general is education. When people are aware of the cruelty of cetacean captivity, they tend to avoid it.
Thank you so much to these dedicated faces who are standing up for Lolita. You all are doing a fabulous job, and each protest guides the movement a step closer to giving Lolita something she more-than deserves: Freedom.
As part of a look inside humans relationship with nature CNN will air “Blackfish” on October 24th from 9-11PM EST. Blackfish is a critically acclaimed documentary looking inside the world of orca captivity. Former SeaWorld trainers come forward and discuss the perils of keeping orcas in captivity along with the danger they faced on a daily basis working with apex predators of the sea.
You can learn more about the former trainers that have gone public by checking out their blog “Voice of the Orcas” at: http://voiceoftheorcas.blogspot.com/
Thursday October 10th at 2PM!
Get Details, Contact Info, and Sign Up at:
We know this is very short notice…Film crew from an Australian TV Station would like to do filming of protesters at the Miami Seaquarium. We need all able bodies to show and make a statement that we want for Arthur Hertz to retire Lolita! Come out and show your support!
I’ve never asked this before but its important to get an actual head count. If you are going and will be there in person please choose: Going. If you are supporting our efforts and will be with us in spirit, please choose “maybe” then you can still share our event! Thank you.
We will be protesting at the gate entrance to the Seaquarium. There is a public lot prior to the entrance gate on the right hand side that we can park there and then walk towards the park.
Please bring your posters and be prepared to make some noise. For Lolita!
We all know that ending Dolphin and Whale captivity lies largely in the hands of today’s youth. The next generation will decide whether they will support facilities that exploit cetaceans or not; they will decide whether captivity stays or goes out of business. That’s why anti-captivity advocates invest so much of their time in educating others, especially the younger generations. Luckily, it seems that this education is making an impact in the lives of multiple children, as seen in the case of Georgia.
Georgia is a 10 year old who lives in Austin, Texas. She was intrigued by the movie “Blackfish,” and asked her mother to take her to see the movie. After viewing it, she was transformed into a full anti-cap. Georgia wanted to do something with her new-found knowledge, so she decided to execute a very simple, yet effective plan: create a lemonade stand and donate the profits to deserving anti-captivity organizations. Georgia stayed committed to her stand, and ended up making $104! She decided to split the profits, with half of the funds going to Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, and the other half going to The Orca Network. Lolita’s freedom is a large portion of how The Orca Network spends their efforts. Georgia also went on to participate in the Japan Dolphins Day protest in her town on September 1st, and now has plans to sell homemade dog treats to raise funds for the ASPCA. What a committed young activist!
Getting the word out to your children about the plight of captivity is crucial. There is no way to end this industry without changing the mindset of our younger ones. We cannot change captivity without changing the next generation.
This year has been rough for Seaworld, one of America’s most successful amusement parks. The most prominent blow to their facade of misleading education, faked bonds between whale and trainer, and halfhearted attempts at conservation comes in the form of the new documentary “Blackfish.” This film has been making its way around the globe since its first appearance in January at the Sundance Film Festival, and has received widespread praise. Along with this praise, the film has created much awareness about the treatment of Killer Whales in captivity, which has led to a stronger opposition to facilities like Seaworld and the Miami Seaquarium. Paired with this, multiple home videos have been released about animals in distress at Seaworld parks including a dolphin who jumped out of a tank, and a Pilot Whale who stranded on a slide out of the tank and was not helped for several minutes despite being in obvious distress. Even last year Seaworld was beginning to be put into the hot seat with the public when David Kirby released a novel called Death at Seaworld.
People who would not otherwise notice anything wrong are beginning to step back and question whether they should support Cetacean captivity or not, and Seaworld is desperately clambering around for ways to keep people coming to their parks.
It’s a common occurrence for those against captivity to talk about how these animals live in a featureless, barren tank with nothing to do but swim in maddening circles. To combat this, Seaworld has tried to save their name by creating an “Orca Treadmill.” This device will be implemented in all three Seaworld parks, and will create a current of water that will allow the Orcas to swim in a continuous straight line in efforts to keep the whales moving and stimulated rather than just sitting in one spot all day. According to the recent reports, the machine has already been tried successfully on Tilikum. Despite Seaworld’s alternate motives of trying to clear their name, the proposition is a good idea, except for a few issues:
- Swimming in a straight line in a tank is not the same as in the ocean.
It’s common knowledge among those who are educated on the basics of Orca lifestyles that they can swim immense distances, sometimes averaging out at 100 miles in a single day. During this time, an Orca pod can be foraging for food, teaching their young how to hunt, resting, socializing, and just exploring their surroundings, as Orcas are known to be curious by nature. Their environment is constantly changing, and there is always something new to be doing. All of these miles that the animals are covering are spent while doing something else. In captivity there just isn’t enough space or diversity in their environment to allow the animals to travel and be as stimulated as they would be in the wild. The tank walls are two-dimensional, and the tanks are usually only big enough for the animal to make a tight circle in. With these new installments of currents, the animals can now swim in a straight line, but nothing about their environment is changing. There are no passing underwater rock formations, no kelp forests to swim through, no differentiating depths to dive to. To put this situation into human terms, imagine a plain living room with no furniture, except for a treadmill. Yes, you’ll have an outlet for exercise, but this is not a solution to your boredom of your never-changing environment.
- What about the underwater noise?
The machines that will be used to create these currents will be similar to the machines that are used at water parks to create wave pools. Orcas are very sound-sensitive animals, as their sense of sound is many times more developed than a human’s is. Imagine the underwater noise that these devices will create, paired with the concrete walls that the sound will be bouncing off of. All of this sound must be deafening to the whales. There is no information provided about how the sound issue will be solved so that leads one to assume that there isn’t a solution.
- This is not a magical solution to the issues surrounding captivity.
Installing wave pools is an improvement that is welcomed by both sides of the captivity debate, considering any way to make the Orcas’ lives more comfortable for the present is a goal supported on both the pro-captivity and anti-captivity agenda. However, the installment of one feature to improve the Orcas’ lives is not going to suddenly solve the many problems that captive Orcas face. For example, Keiko’s rehabilitation tank at the Oregon Aquarium included currents with natural seawater, but he still exhibited the same stereotypical behaviors that he did while in sub-standard conditions at Reino Adventura, including logging at the surface and banging his head on the tank walls. The change will be nothing more than an added toy to the Orcas’ collections that they will once again become bored with, and will soon return to their usual stereotypical habits.
Seaworld and any other marine park housing captive Orcas will not have found a solution to Orca captivity until they end it. This can be done by phasing out captive breeding and retiring their current animals to sea pens to live out the rest of their days in peace. As for the few that can be released with the proper rehab, such as Lolita, sea pens will only be temporary until they are independent enough to leave humans and become wild again.
“We’re fighting until every cage is empty, not until every cage is comfortable.” – Danny Brady
- There will be a PETA-hosted protest outside the Miami Seaquarium (4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami FL), on behalf of Lolita the orca’s retirement from 43 years in a tiny tank. The peaceful demonstration will be from noon to 1 pm on Tuesday May 21, 2013. Please feel free to bring/make your own signs, but also some will be provided. Invite friends and other compassionate people.
- If you have ever wondered what Lolita’s performances look like (and don’t want to give your money to the Seaquarium to actually witness it), check out this heartbreaking video that demonstrates the size of her tank as she leaps and splashes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=BUJOEEhYb1s&NR=1
- A great opportunity for Lolita’s cause to win $30,000: Please vote daily in the BiLLe Celebrity Challenge. The winning non-profit will get a large donation from the European Lotto. Last month, Sam Simon, co-creator of the Simpsons, won on behalf of the Free Morgan Project (to benefit captive orca Morgan at Loro Parque in Spain). The month before Ric O’Barry won for SaveJapanDolphins! This month we hope Lolita will win! Please vote by clicking daily for Robin Williams/OrcaNetwork to win Lolita’s courtcase this huge donation.
- Coming up soon in July 2013: The World-Wide Empty the Tanks protests held in several countries and states, including Chicago, Miami, San Diego, Ontario, Orlando, Las Vegas, San Antonio and more to peacefully protest dolphins and whales being held in captivity for entertainment purposes. Read more here: https://www.facebook.com/EmptyTheTanksAnnualProtest?fref=ts
- To stay up to date on this information and participate in discussion, please “like” our page on Facebook, Free Lolita the Orca: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Lolita-the-Orca/387603607109