The Miracle March for Lolita doesn't officially happen until tomorrow, but things are already shaking up in Miami.
Miami Seaquarium is undoubtedly feeling the pressure. We reported last night that they complained to the FAA after recent drone footage of Lolita, but with thousands of activists in town the Miami heat is on.
Orca Network's Howard Garrett got a taste of their pressure first hand when he tried to visit Lolita this afternoon. According to Orca Network,
Howard tried to get in to visit Lolita/Tokitae today - we have not seen her since 1999, and he just wanted to say hello to her and see how she is doing, it was not a protest or activist visit. He was just wanting to see the missing member of L pod of the Southern Resident community of orcas. But Seaquarium security guys nabbed him the minute he set foot in the PARKING LOT! He told them that one of the conditions of the Seaquarium having Lolita on display is that she be available for the public to see, but they told him he was an "activist" so apparently he is no longer a member of the public? He has never done anything but take photos and visit with Lolita in the few times he was able to sneak into the Seaquarium.
How cruel to deprive him from seeing her after traveling across the nation to see her and say hello.
Also reported by Orca Network:
Pressure is mounting on the Miami Seaquarium to do the right thing and let Lolita return to her home water and family. Miami Seaquarium is about to get Blackfished.
The intense critical attention that has been focused on SeaWorld since February 2010 when Dawn Brancheau was killed by Tilikum, known as the Blackfish effect, is now turning toward the Miami Seaquarium, with the added realization that the best candidate by far among all captive orcas for return to her native habitat is Lolita. With the perfect seapen location ready to go in the San Juan Islands, the time is NOW.
Lolita’s freedom is closer than ever with a proposal for her release and retirement to her native habitat being unveiled TODAY at 5:30pm. A year ago, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proposed to amend the current Endangered Species Act listing for Southern Resident killer whales to include Lolita as a member of her extended family. After a one-year comment period ending this month, Lolita will likely become protected under the ESA.
Howard Garrett of the Orca Network; consultant working with PETA on Lolita’s release/retirement legal actions; featured in the award-winning CNN documentary, Blackfish
Dr. Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Scientist, Animal Welfare Institute and formerly with Humane Society Washington D.C.
Lincoln O’Barry of The Dolphin Project, whose father Ric was featured in the Academy Award winning film, The Cove
Jared Goodman, PETA’s Director of Animal Law
Jerry Powers, artist and activist, launched Miami’s Free Lolita movement in 1995
WHEN: TODAY Friday, Jan. 16, MEDIA ONLY: Roundtable discussion 5:30pm sharp--LIVE cameras welcomed and encouraged
3490 N. Miami Avenue, Design District
Photo by Jill Hein (Left to Right: Lincoln O'Barry, Howard Garrett, Jared Goodman, Jerry Powers and Naomi Rose)
In a related event on Thursday night, activists lit candles for the 5th Annual Change for Taiji. The event was a peaceful protest and candlelight vigil at the Consulate General of Japan in Miami for the dolphins taken into captivity and those slaughtered in Taiji every year between September and March.
Madeline Peon-Barron, Miami resident and activist, said:
The vigil was very peaceful. We had a precious moment when we all held lit candles for the dolphins who have perished.
Just pray the world wakes up and sees what we've been doing and how wrong it is. We need to fix our mistakes. This may be a beginning. Lolita had lived longer than any orca in captivity. Her life has a purpose.
She said they were honored with the presence of Peggy Oki from Origami Whales Project and the event organizer, Barbara Napoles of Save the Blood Dolphins.
Photo by Heather Diaz
Tomorrow, thousands are expected to take to the streets for the Miracle March for Lolita, with celebrities, journalists and activists joining together for one purpose...to retire Lolita.