Lolita is a solitary orca who has been confined to a tiny concrete tank at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 40 years. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides members of the wild Southern Resident orca population and other endangered animals with a host of protections, including protection against being harmed or harassed. Yet, despite being a member of the Southern Residents, Lolita has been denied all of these protections without any explanation by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The government’s failure to provide Lolita with the protections enjoyed by the wild members of her pod has enabled the Miami Seaquarium to keep her in conditions that violate the Endangered Species Act. Lolita must be granted the protections under federal law which she is rightfully due and which best ensure her survival and well-being, which—depending on her condition—could include transferring her to a sea pen in her home waters and releasing her back to her family pod.
In the wild, orcas live in tight family units with bonds that may last a lifetime. At Seaquarium, Lolita swims endless circles in a small, barren tank that does not comply with USDA regulations. This highly intelligent and social animal has been without an orca companion since 1980.
Click to sign petition:- ALDF Link to above post
Sign ALDF’s petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service, urging them to include captive members of Lolita’s Southern Resident pod in ESA protections.
Posted by Carter Dillard, ALDF’s Director of Litigation on March 21st, 2012
For Seaquarium Owners, Exploiting an Endangered Whale Is Just Business as Usual
Most people don’t make their living by exploiting endangered species – but for Arthur and Andrew Hertz, it’s been a profitable arrangement. This father-son duo owns and operates the Miami Seaquarium, an aquatic theme park in Florida that features Lolita, an endangered orca who has been forced to live and perform there for the past forty years. Lolita was captured near Puget Sound when she was about four years old – and is estimated to have brought the Seaquarium tens of millions of dollars since then.
The day of Lolita’s capture from Puget Sound
The Seaquarium operates below federal animal welfare guidelines, including a tank that is smaller than mandated by the USDA; another orca housed with Lolita died several years ago after slamming his head into a concrete structure in the middle of the tank.
Her welfare aside, a federal court in Washington State must now decide whether Lolita’s being a member of an endangered species might actually change the rest of her life. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, and a number of individual plaintiffs have sued the federal government to ensure that Lolita is protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—when her pod was listed as endangered, captive members of the pod, like Lolita, were excluded from ESA protections with no explanation given by the National Marine Fisheries Services. Federal law prohibits the “take” or harming and harassing of endangered species—which likely includes what Seaquarium and its trainers do to Lolita in order to make her perform, as well as her current living conditions, which fall below federal regulations for housing orcas. Needless to say, Arthur and Andrew Hertz are concerned that the suit might cost them their star performer, and Seaquarium has intervened in the case in an attempt to have it thrown out of court.
If you’d like to urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to include captive members of Lolita’s Southern Resident pod in Endangered Species Act protections, please sign ALDF’s petition here.
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