The dolphin snatchers: Mail investigation exposes vile trade where animals are sold for up to £100,000 each to aquariums where they suffer unimaginable cruelty

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For the men wearing wetsuits wading in a shallow bay teeming with trapped wild dolphins, the decision is as simple as it is ruthless. Running their hands carefully over each dolphin’s body, they check to ensure the creature is free from scars, particularly on the dorsal and tail fins.

At first glance this human interaction with one of the few creatures said to possess an intellect close to our own appears an act of caring tenderness. But in reality, these are businessmen selecting their merchandise for a multi-million-pound trade in live dolphins. The best specimens (usually young females, or cows) are removed from their families to be sold live for between £50,000 and £100,000 each to aquariums.

The dolphins they reject — the ones with minor blemishes on their skin — are slaughtered where they are trapped in that cove at Taiji on the south coast of Japan.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – Discretion advised when scrolling down!

The cruel sea: A dolphin selected for sale last month in Japan. Others that are 'not suitable' are killed

The cruel sea: A dolphin selected for sale last month in Japan. Others that are ‘not suitable’ are killed

In a frenzy of violence that has shocked animal lovers and marine environmentalists around the world, some are speared repeatedly by fisherman circling in motorboats whose propellers often slice the dolphins’ skin. Others are simply held underwater to drown.

Sometimes, a metal pole is rammed into their blubber in the hope of shattering the mammal’s spine. A cork stopper is then hammered into the hole where the rod was forced in, to try to reduce the blood spilt into the sea — to conceal the extent of the slaughter.

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The rejects are slaughtered for their meat. Some are speared repeatedly by fisherman circling in motorboats whose propellers often slice the dolphins’ skin

Invariably a few dolphins try to make a break for freedom and attempt to jump over the netting that seals off the bay.

However, amid the blood-red waters almost all of them eventually succumb to their fate. These barbaric scenes took place just before Christmas, during a hunting season when Japanese fishermen ‘harvest’ dolphins to supply to aquariums for human entertainment.

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Killer cove: The dolphins they reject – the ones with minor blemishes on their skin – are trapped in a cove at Taiji on the south coast of Japan

It is estimated that for every wild dolphin caught to be trained to perform tricks in captivity, around four times that number are slaughtered.

The fishermen then sell off the meat for about £10 a kilo. They see the creatures as a menace because they pose a threat to the dwindling reserves of fish in the Pacific Ocean.

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Blood red: Japanese fishermen collect the bodies of harpooned dolphins from the bloody waters of a bay in Taiji

But for those that survive the slaughter, life might as well be over.The stress a dolphin suffers as a result of being captured, transported and imprisoned in a small tank dramatically reduces its lifespan

While wild dolphins live for up to 60 or 70 years, captured ones often perish when they are as young as eight, say environmentalists.

According to marine experts, some dolphins are so distressed by their capture that they commit suicide.

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The odds: For every wild dolphin caught to be trained to perform tricks in captivity, around four times that number are slaughtered

One of the most vocal campaigners against the practice is also one of the most knowledgeable — he is the very man who helped create and promote the worldwide aquarium industry.

Ric O’Barry became famous in the Sixties as the on-screen trainer of the five dolphins that played Flipper in the popular U.S. TV series, which was also hugely successful in Britain.

For ten years he worked at Miami Seaquarium, where he trained the wild mammals after capturing them on hunting expeditions in the Pacific.

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Rounding them up: Fishermen drive bottle-nose dolphins into a net during their annual hunt off Taiji. The ‘drive hunt’ involved five or six large fishing vessels sailing out to sea to find a pod of dolphins

But when Kathy, the main dolphin that played Flipper, died in his arms after apparently losing the will to live, he says it dawned on him how cruel captivity is for such intelligent and social creatures.

For the past 40 years he has travelled the world highlighting the plight of dolphins in amusement parks, and even releasing them from those parks into the wild, often getting arrested in the process.

Three years ago, he made a documentary called The Cove, which revealed the truth about the ‘drive hunts’ that take place at Taiji in Japan. Yet since then, the practice has continued unabated — as these photographs demonstrate only too graphically.

O’Barry, 73, says live dolphins taken from the waters in Japan are shipped to aquariums and ‘swim-with-dolphin’ centres mostly in the Far East. Speaking from his home in Miami, O’Barry says: ‘Taiji is the number one location to get dolphins for the dolphinarium industry — or what I called “abusement parks”.’

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Some dolphins are so distressed by their capture that they commit suicide. the stress that they suffer as a result of being captured dramatically shortens their lifespan

Although there are no international laws banning the shipment of live dolphins to those countries prepared to accept them, O’Barry claims the dolphins undergo terrible suffering.

‘After enduring a painfully long period of transportation, they are put into often filthy and confined conditions at aquariums. ‘These are free-ranging creatures with a large brain whose primary sense is sound.

‘Some have been placed in aquariums at casinos where the noise is appalling. These environments are hell-holes to creatures used to the open seas and which often swim up to 100 miles in a day in search of food. ‘They are taken away from the two most important aspects of their life — the world of oceanic sound and their families. ‘They end up suffering depression. I believe they are also capable of trying to commit suicide.’

Two years ago at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in south-western Japan, hundreds of tourists at a marine show looked on in astonishment as a large dolphin rose up out of the water tank to balance precariously on the glass barrier of the aquarium. It then threw itself out of the water on to the ground.

Touchingly, the other dolphins in the tank swam to the glass wall to look at the plight of their companion, called Kuru (meaning ‘black’). The dolphin was eventually put into a huge tarpaulin sling and winched by a crane back into the water.

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The hunt is on: Taiji’s fishermen are licensed by the national government to catch 2,100 dolphins and pilot whales in the six-month hunting season

The incident was filmed by an appalled American tourist, who passed the footage on to O’Barry. While many thought the mammal was trying to make a break for freedom, O’Barry believes it was more likely it wanted to commit suicide.

‘It was depressed and wanted to end it,’ O’Barry says, adding that it had been in captivity for six years after being taken from the wild. ‘I have seen it many, many times. They are living in a world of sensory deprivation, then bombarded with a wall of noise from the crowd.’

After the clip was made public the aquarium managers immediately issued a statement saying the dolphin was ‘playing around’ and suffered minor scratches and bruises on its head and fin. It was, they insisted, fine and enjoyed a healthy serving of mackerel and squid once returned to the tank.

They did admit, however, that dolphins occasionally jump out of the water on to dry land, so they have now placed crash mats around the perimeter of the three tanks in their amusement park to avoid serious injury.

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A hidden practice: Due to worldwide concern, the fishermen now try to hide the slaughter. The kills take place out of sight underneath blue tarpaulins

The trade in wild dolphins to U.S. aquariums has ceased due to public outrage, and the high-profile campaigns of activists like O’Barry.

There are no captive dolphins in Britain either as a result of a public backlash against the shows. Only a few are on show in Europe, and these animals were born in captivity — although O’Barry fears even this poses a threat to the mammals’ welfare because there is now a problem with inbreeding. O’Barry exhorts the public never to attend dolphin aquariums.

‘The solution lies with the consumer,’ he says. ‘Don’t buy a ticket for a captive dolphin show. ‘This is a multi-million-dollar industry I helped create. I remember loading them onto the planes after the Flipper show became so popular. At one point there were more dolphins in the UK than in Florida.

‘But the consumer now has to bring his power to bear on this trade, which also results in the slaughter of all those other dolphins. There is more money in live dolphins than dead ones, but the one fuels the other.’

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A fisheries worker guides the carcass of dolphins at ‘killer cove’ in Taiji, Japan. The fishermen claim that any kills that take place are humane and that it takes only seconds for the dolphins to die

In Taiji, Nicole McLachlan, of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is part of a team monitoring the capture and killing of dolphins that takes place from September to March each year in the small port where whales have been hunted since the 17th century. Last month alone, she claims up to 170 cetaceans were killed, including pilot whales, risso, striped and bottlenose dolphins. More than 100 were captured for aquariums.

Such is worldwide concern over the slaughter that the fishermen try to hide it. ‘Nowadays the kills take place out of sight underneath blue and brown tarpaulins that cover the bay,’ the Australian marine environmentalist says.

The carnage lasts about half an hour. It is harrowing. ‘They are terrified. You hear the dolphins screaming; it’s a high-pitched wailing sound. ‘There is splashing as they thrash around in the water. Young dolphin calves are often among those slaughtered within the cove; some are younger than a year old.’

Yet locals are adamant it should continue. Police monitor the activists while many of the town’s 3,500 residents — most of whom are linked to the fishing industry — arrive to support the fishermen in this Japanese tradition.

The ‘drive hunt’ (‘oikomiryou’ in Japanese) involves five or six large fishing vessels sailing out to sea to find a pod of dolphins. The fishermen bang metal poles against the side of the boat to disorientate and scare them.

More boats arrive, making the same noise, to corral the confused and by now terrified pod into the cove, which is then sealed off. The next day the inspectors arrive to examine their quarry and separate the dolphins for the aquariums from those to be killed.

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, between 1968 and 1972, only 77 live-caught bottlenose dolphins were sent to aquariums from such hunts. But now Taiji’s 120 fishermen are licensed by the national government to catch 2,100 dolphins and pilot whales in the six-month hunting season.

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A fisherman tows away dolphins that have been tied by rope to the front of his boat. In 2011, about 15 per cent of dolphins were taken into captivity (68 were kept alive and 968 killed)

The fishermen claim any kills that take place, particularly those where the rod shatters the spine, are humane and that it takes only seconds for the dolphins to die. It is a claim vehemently refuted by marine environmentalists.

A spokesman for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said: ‘In 2011, about 15 per cent of the dolphins were taken for captivity (68 were kept alive and 968 killed). ‘The year before that (2010-2011), nearly 20 per cent were taken into captivity (213 were sold for aquariums and 1,100 were killed)  This year, however, may be even higher due to the 100 bottlenose dolphins already taken into captivity.’

In the summer months, long after the blood has been washed away from Taiji cove, tourists arrive to swim in the bay — with dolphins. The town has a whale museum and fish tanks in which dolphins are kept — in 2011, two dolphins were filmed in a tank so small it was nicknamed ‘the fish-bowl’.

Captured dolphins also swim in the bay, which is sealed off to ensure they cannot bolt to freedom.

And as tourists marvel at the antics of these sensitive creatures and play with them, almost every one remains blissfully unaware of Taiji’s bloody secret — and of how young healthy dolphins are snatched away from their parents to amuse humans in this callous multi-million-pound trade.

News Link:– http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2257426/The-dolphin-snatchers-Mail-investigation-exposes-vile-trade-animals-sold-100-000-aquariums-suffer-unimaginable-cruelty.html#ixzz2H3wYDyHM

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Make a Splash: Free Lolita!

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The show is designed to make people believe Lolita is having fun.

Meet Lolita: an intelligent and sensitive orca, confined to the smallest orca tank in North America.

This life means daily misery for Lolita, but big bucks for the Miami Seaquarium. And, even though her shameful living conditions clearly violate the Animal Welfare Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to hand out AWA licenses to the Seaquarium.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is outraged and petitioning the USDA to give Lolita the justice she so rightly deserves.

Lolita was one of seven orcas kidnapped in the notorious 1970 Penn Cove round up in Puget Sound, Washington. In this horrific event, when four orcas (three calves) drowned in the nets, their bellies were slit in an attempt by human captors to sink the bodies and perhaps to hide this shameful waste of life. However, the bodies of the dead orcas washed ashore and lead to righteous public outrage. You can hear the cries of Lolita and her family in the devastating video footage of her family’s capture.

“For some reason I couldn’t see the video that would play on that page; so I have included this video instead, which has some of the soundtrack from that capture!”

Killer Whale Captures

Uploaded by  on 31 Aug 2009

Footage shot by KING TV in the early 1970’s of the early killer whale captures in Puget Sound.

“In this video one of the divers from that day, explains what happened, he still shed tears to this day!”

“Orca Stories” from “Baby Wild Films Presents: The Killer Whale People”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUlbZifjoqo

“Another video that show’s part of capture of the whales”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN52iBH4IPY

“A promo stunt goes badly wrong when a theme park secretary is given the opportunity to ride on the back of a killer whale; but it goes terribly wrong & the women ends up having over 100 stitches to close the wound on her leg! I don’t think this whale did this out of malice, I think it’s out of sheer frustration; the pools they swim in are like bath tubs to the orcas!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DqqNDnGO00&feature=related

“Please sign the petition, do anything you can to have these beautiful mammals put back where they belong…in the WILD”

In the wild, orcas spend their entire lives with their mothers and family bonds last a lifetime. In 1996, twenty-six years after her capture, Lolita was played a recording of her family’s calls. Heartbreakingly, Lolita returned the distinct dialect of her family’s calls, in clear recognition of familiar voices. And at more than 80 years old, Lolita’s mother still thrives in a seaside sanctuary in their home waters, just waiting for Lolita to come home.

Performers literally ride on Lolita’s back for profit.

Instead, because she brings in profit, Lolita swims tiny circles in a shallow and barren cement tank that doesn’t meet the minimum requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. Constantly exposed to the burning Miami sun and tropical storms, Lolita has been without any orca companion for three decades.

In the beginning, Lolita had the company of Hugo, a male orca who shared her tank from 1971 until 1980. They mated, but in her stressful environment Lolita suffered unsuccessful pregnancies. In 1980, in what many believe was a desperate attempt to break free from his miserable prison, or commit suicide, Hugo continuously rammed his head into the side of the tank and died of a brain aneurysm  Since Hugo’s sudden death in 1980, which left Lolita sulking at the bottom of her tank in a state “not unlike bereavement,” Lolita has not had a killer whale companion.

As a reward for her own extraordinary will to live, Lolita has been exploited for 42 years. She was abducted from her family and enslaved purely for the profit of the “amusement” park. Despite shameful and inhumane living conditions, Lolita endures – and her survivor spirit has haunted the hearts of people around the world. But given the low quality of her life at Seaquarium, it is likely she will die decades before her time, unless we act now, as we did for Keiko (“Willy”). It is time for us to set Lolita free.

Published on 22 Aug 2012 by 

 ALDF Fights to Free Lolita

This is why ALDF is doing everything it can to help return Lolita to her family. In addition to a petition to stop the USDA’s unmerited renewal of the Seaquarium’s AWA license, ALDF (along with PETA) is suing the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to end the exclusion of Lolita from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of the Pacific Northwest’s Southern Resident orcas.

ALDF is asking the courts to intervene where federal agencies – charged with protecting Lolita – have repeatedly failed her. “The horror of Lolita’s confinement is almost inconceivable” says Jenni James, litigation fellow at ALDF. “It is time for the government to grant her the legal protections she has been denied for decades.”

What You Can Do to Help

  • Do not buy a ticket to any amusement park with captive orcas, especially the Miami Seaquarium.
  • Educate yourself, educate your friends, and spread the word.
  • Arrange a screening of Lolita: Slave to Entertainment at your school, community center, library, or local community television station.
  • Do not support companies like Princess Cruises (a division of Carnival Cruises) that endorse animal cruelty at the Seaquarium.
  • Contact the USDA and ask them to follow the law provided in the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Sign ALDF’s Petition to the:- National Marine Fisheries Service.

More Information

40 Years in a Barren Tank, Lolita the Orca Waits for Freedom

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Published on 22 Aug 2012 by 

Lolita the orca is kept in a tank so small that it fails to meet minimum legal size requirements and offers no protection from the burning sunclear violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Lolita was taken from her family as a young orca and has spent over 40 years in this barren tank, being forced to entertain Miami Sequarium patrons.

Help ALDF free Lolita, visit:  http://is.gd/AwOjCs

For more information on ALDF’s work to free Lolita, visit:http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2132

Speak Out for Better Protections for Captive Orcas Petition Information

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.

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.

Please sign the petition here:http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8789

PETA, ALDF Appeal Court’s Dismissal of Lawsuit Seeking Lolita’s Freedom

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Case Against Government for Excluding Captive Orca From Endangered Species Act Protections Goes to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Miami PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) have appealed the recent dismissal of the groups’ lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for wrongly excluding orca Lolita from the endangered listing of the Pacific Northwest’s southern resident orcas. The exclusion has allowed the Miami Seaquarium to hold Lolita alone in captivity in a tiny concrete tank for more than 40 years with impunity despite Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibitions against harming and harassing southern resident orcas. The case’s dismissal was based solely on the timing of the filing of the lawsuit—in their federal appeal, PETA and ALDF contend that the government received the required notice of intent to sue and that the case was wrongfully dismissed.

“It is deplorable for the government to exclude Lolita from the protections granted to southern resident orcas solely because a theme park tore her away from her family four decades ago,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “PETA and ALDF will continue to push for Lolita to finally have her day in court and the freedom she deserves.”

“Because the government has not granted Lolita the protections she is rightfully due, she suffers each day in a small tank equivalent to a human confined to a bathtub her entire life,” says Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation. “The American public is sick and tired of legal loopholes designed to allow companies such as the Seaquarium to profit at the expense of animals like Lolita and the people who care about her well-being.”

The groups’ lawsuit calls for Lolita to be included in the endangered listing, which could include release into a seaside sanctuary in her home waters and, if possible, back into her family pod. In the wild, female orcas spend their entire lives with their mothers, and Lolita’s mother is still thriving at more than 80 years of age. Orcas naturally swim up to 100 miles a day with their families. Lolita currently swims in endless circles alone in the smallest orca tank in North America, where she is forced to perform meaningless tricks for Seaquarium’s profit—an estimated tens of millions of dollars.

News Link:http://www.peta.org/mediacenter/news-releases/PETA–ALDF-Appeal-Court-s-Dismissal-of-Lawsuit-Seeking-Lolita-s-Freedom.aspx

Lawsuit To Free Lolita The Killer Whale Dismissed

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“Poor Lolita, her freedom was taken, she was forced to perform! I think it is atrocious that a jumped up judge that probably knows jack sxxt about orca’s, has the final say on her life…her life was taken from her…her performances have raked in god knows how much money for Miami Seaquarium. If they thought anything about Lolita they would let her retire. And she could be set free again, with time in  a sea pen, it’s not like there just going to free her straight into the sea…it’s possible…so I hope everyone keeps fighting for this Orca…she deserves her freedom & has paid dearly for it…Free Lolita NOW!

“Join her facebook page & protest for Lolita’s freedom”….https://www.facebook.com/events/231278520320948/

SEATTLE (CBSMiami/AP)South Florida marine super star Lolita the killer whale will remain in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium after a federal judge in Tacoma, Wash., dismissed a lawsuit aimed at freeing the marine park’s star attraction.

Judge Benjamin H. Settle last week ruled that orca activists who sued the federal government didn’t give proper notice and failed to state a valid claim. He granted motions by the government and Seaquarium to dismiss the case.

Lolita, the oldest killer whale in captivity, was born around 1966. She has spent most of her life performing at the Seaquarium since her capture from Puget Sound waters in 1970.

The 7,000 pound whale has lived in the 20-foot deep tank for more than 40 years, performing twice a day for South Florida tourists.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and three individuals sued the National Marine Fisheries Service in November, saying it should have protected Lolita when it listed other Puget Sound orcas as endangered in 2005.

The groups say they’ll continue to fight for Lolita’s release back into the waters of the Pacific Northwest where she was originally captured but her handlers and theme park owners have said her life would be endangered if she were freed after so many years in captivity.

The Seaquarium has said Lolita is healthy and well-cared for.

News Link:-http://miami.cbslocal.com/2012/05/07/lawsuit-to-free-lolita-the-killer-whale-dismissed/

Government Refuses to Protect Solitary Orca

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Despite the endangered-species status of the southern resident orcas, the federal government is refusing to offer imprisoned orca Lolita the same protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that the rest of her family pod enjoys.

Legal Hypocrisy

You may recall that the National Marine Fisheries Service classified Washington state’s southern resident orca population as endangered, giving it protection from being harmed or harassed under the ESA, but without explanation, it excluded Lolita, who was captured from the pod as a calf and has been held prisoner and forced to perform for the last 42 years. PETA called foul on the unlawful double standard and filed suit on Lolita’s behalf, joined by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Washington residents, and a former employee of theMiami Seaquarium, where Lolita is held captive.

Legal Runaround

The Miami Seaquarium and the federal government filed motions to get the case dismissed, and the judge acquiesced on timing grounds—he didn’t address the merits of the case—meaning that the Miami Seaquarium can continue to confine Lolita to the smallest orca tank in North America (the orca equivalent of a bathtub), prevent her from interacting with any members of her own species, deny her appropriate protection from the sun, and force her to perform silly tricks. But PETA and the ALDF are already regrouping and planning our next move, and the lawsuit’s dismissal is merely a hitch in our efforts to see Lolita released into a seaside sanctuary in her home waters.

You Can Help

Please send a polite e-mail to Eric C. Schwabb, assistant administrator for fisheries, urging him to give Lolita her rightful protection under the ESA.

Link:-http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2012/05/02/lolita-endangered-species-act-suit-to-proceed.aspx

Speak Out for Better Protections for Captive Orcas!

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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.

Click here to read more on this post :-Link to ALDF Post

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