Powerful Voices Join the Call to Retire Lolita After 45 Years in Captivity
This has been a busy week for Lolita, the last Southern Resident Killer Whale in captivity at Miami Seaquarium.
Last week, PETA released a list of Miami celebrities and local city leaders who have come out in support of retiring Lolita. The list includes Daisy Fuentes, DJ Irie, Louis Aguirre, and developer Jorge Perez. You can find their individual statements here.
Saturday marked the 45th anniversary of Lolita’s tragic capture from Penn Cove. In commemoration, a gathering was held in Coupeville on Whidbey Island, WA. The gathering included a waterside salmon ceremony by Samish elders Rosie Cayou and Bill Bailey. Special music was provided by the Derik Nelson Band, Jim Marcotte, and the Whiskey Minstrels. John Hargrove author of Beneath the Surface, David Neiwert author of Of Orcas and Men and Sandra Pollard author of Puget Sound Whales For Sale were also in attendance.
Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy read a letter he has written to the Mayor of Miami Beach regarding Lolita, then presented Orca Network’s Howard Garrett with the letter and a key to Langley to be delivered to Lolita in Miami in the future.
Photo of Mayor McCarthy by Durand Dace
There was also a waterside ceremony where an offering of salmon and seaweed were given to the orcas.
Durand Dace described the event. “Two offerings were prepared that day, both on large, natural pieces of cedar. Each had a slab of salmon and freshly selected kelp on it, resting on soft evergreen feathers.”
Photo of salmon offering by Durand Dace with Orca Network's Howard Garrett and Samish elder Rosie Cayou
On Sunday a group of dedicated activists in the Miami community known as Animal Activists Network held a protest in front of the park before protesting the home of Robert Rose, curator of Miami Seaquarium, later in the day. According to their facebook page, they convinced 40 cars to turn around before entering the park. Animal Activists Network protests outside the park every Sunday.
On Monday, the Miami Beach Mayor, Phillip Levine, joined in the call for Lolita’s release along with other Miami business leaders.
NOAA officially included Lolita as member of endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale member of L-pod on May 11, 2015. Orca Network has a comprehensive release plan in place to include a slow transition into a sea pen before a final release only on her terms. You can read more about her plan here.
Last month, a group of activists including PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Orca Network sued Miami Seaquarium stating that the size of Lolita's tank violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lawsuit suggests that her being held in a tiny tank and forced to perform for food constitutes an unlawful “take” meaning she is being harmed, harassed or wounded. This is the third lawsuit filed on Lolita’s behalf.