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Advocates for Lolita & Nosey Use Viral Video to Demand that USDA Enforces Animal Welfare Act

May 18, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

Nosey the elephant and Lolita the orca, longtime symbols of the cruelty of animals in entertainment, have also also become symbols of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) failure to enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Lolita being used as a surfboard; arthritic Nosey gives rides to unsuspecting children

Lolita being used as a surfboard; arthritic Nosey gives rides to unsuspecting children

After years of protests, petitions and lawsuits, activists nationwide are now using a viral video to demand that the USDA liberate Lolita and Nosey on the grounds that the harsh conditions of their captivity violate the AWA.

NOSEY
Nosey, a 30-year old elephant who was captured in Zimbabwe when she was two, has been held captive by the Liebel Family Circus since 1988. In spite of her crippling arthritis and chronic skin disease, Nosey is forced to give rides to paying customers at flea markets and fairs across the country.
Under threat of bullhook, Nosey is forced to give rides in spite of eye infection and arthritis

Under threat of bullhook, Nosey is forced to give rides in spite of her eye infection and arthritis

Advocates claim that the circus owner, Tom Liebel, and his employees have beaten Nosey into submission with bullhooks, a sledge hammer and shovels and that the USDA has cited Liebel nearly 200 times for violations.  In spite of the violations,  abundant evidence of abuse and a veterinary report stating that Nosey is “suffering, permanently disabled and crippled,” the USDA has refused to revoke Liebel’s license to exhibit Nosey and use her for rides.
Violation of AWA

Violation of AWA

LOLITA
Lolita, an orca who was captured off the coast of Washington in 1970, has been held captive in the nation’s smallest whale tank for 45 years. Until 1980, she had an orca companion, Hugo, who reportedly committed suicide by pounding his head against the side of the tank. For the past 35 years, she has been alone, unable to interact with members of her own species or engage in any natural behaviors, such as hunting, diving and swimming in the open water. Her tank is just 20 feet deep.

Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium

Lolita’s captivity at the Miami Seaquarium is not just cruel; it is illegal. Palace Entertainment is violating the AWA in three ways: Lolita’s tank doesn’t meet minimum size requirements; she has no shade to protect her from the sun; and she does not have a killer whale companion.

Lolita is longer than the tank is deep.

Lolita is longer than the tank is deep.

In February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designated Lolita as endangered because she was taken from the protected Southern Resident Killer Whale population. This historic decision has provided legal ammunition to the groups that have sued the USDA for renewing Palace’s license in spite of its AWA violations. If the court rules in favor of the advocacy groups, then Lolita could be released to the Puget Sound where she would be rehabilitated in a coastal sanctuary and, if possible, released to her pod. Lolita’s mother, 86, is reported to be alive.

Your Turn

Robin Jewell, the producer of the historic Miracle March for Lolita in January, created a video with advocates around the country asking the USDA to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Please hold the USDA accountable for its failure to protect Lolita and Nosey by helping to make this video go viral.

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Activists to Stage Nationwide Protests Against Company Holding Lolita Captive

May 5, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

On May 9th and May 23rd, animal rights activists will stage protests in nine states at theme parks owned by Palace Entertainment, the company that operates the Miami Seaquarium, where the orca Lolita has been held captive for 45 years in the nation’s smallest killer whale tank. Palace, which owns 32 amusement and waterparks nationwide, purchased the Miami Seaquarium in 2014.

Seaquarium-Lolita

Lolita has lived in the nation’s smallest killer whale pool since 1970

Lolita was kidnapped from her pod off the coast of Washington state in 1970. For the first 10 years, she had a killer whale companion, Hugo, who reportedly committed suicide by pounding his head against the side of the tank. Since 1980, she has been alone, unable to interact with members of her own species or engage in any natural behaviors, such as hunting, diving and swimming in the open water. Her tank is just 20 feet deep.

"Please take me home. I don't belong in a pool."

Lolita is 20′ long. Her tank is 20′ deep.

Lolita’s captivity is not just cruel; it is illegal. In fact, Palace Entertainment is violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) in three ways. Lolita’s tank doesn’t meet minimum size requirements; she has no shade to protect her from Florida’s searing sun; and she does not have a killer whale companion.

In February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designated Lolita as endangered because she was taken from the protected Southern Resident Killer Whale population. This historic decision has provided legal ammunition to the groups that are suing the USDA for renewing Palace’s license in spite of its AWA violations.

photo: Matthew Hoelscher

Animal exploitation (photo: Matthew Hoelscher)

Palace Entertainment has been steadfast in its opposition to releasing Lolita to a seaside pen. In an effort to keep their biggest money maker, Seaquarium spokesperson Robert Rose tells the press that Lolita will die if she is released into the ocean. Advocates, on the other hand, assert that a coastal sanctuary would finally give her the opportunity to live — providing her with space to swim, communicate with her pod; receive rehabilitation; and be released if she is deemed capable of surviving in the wild.

The May 9th protests, organized by the group Shut Down Palace, will take place at Palace’s theme parks in Florida, Georgia, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh & Lancaster) and California.  On May 23rd, a second wave of protests will take place at Palace parks in New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

For Lolita, the Miami Seaquarium is a prison, not a palace (photo: Shut Down Palace)

For Lolita, the Miami Seaquarium is a prison, not a palace (photo: Shut Down Palace)

The #ShutDownPalace protests are not the first major effort to liberate Lolita. In January, over 1,500 activists from around the world descended upon Miami to participate in the “Miracle March for Lolita.” In a rousing speech after the march, Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnchained told the crowd to “get the police tape” because the Miami Sequarium is a “crime scene.”

Miracle March for Lolita at Miami Seaquarium

Miracle March for Lolita on January 17, 2015 (photo: Christina Estrada)


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Where is Lolita?

December 5, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

The Public Relations office at the Miami Seaquarium is saying “no comment” in response to frantic inquires about the whereabouts of Lolita, an orca who has been living in the smallest killer whale tank in North America for 44 years.

The Seaquarium posted this statement for visitors on its website: “Due to routine maintenance at our Killer Whale and Dolphin Stadium, there will be no Killer Whale and Dolphin show until further notice.”

Statement on Seaquarium website

Statement on Seaquarium website

Some speculate that Lolita has been moved to an even smaller tank that is covered with a tarp:

Photo: @OrcaSOS

Photo: @OrcaSOS

Lolita, who was stolen from her pod off the coast of Washington in 1970 when she was four, has captured the world’s attention because her tank that is smaller than the minimum size required by the Animal Welfare Act, and she has no orca companion or shelter from the sun.  Lolita can’t even dive because the the tank to which she is confined is shallower than the length of her body.

Lolita's tank is just 35' X 80'

Lolita’s tank is just 35′ X 80′

On January 17th, over 1,000 people will gather in Miami for the Mircale March for Lolita, which promises to be the largest protest in history for a captive orca. The objective is to pressure the Seaquarium to release her to coastal sanctuary near her pod where she will be rehabilitated and transitioned back into the wild. Lolita’s mother is still alive.

Your Turn

Please call the Miami Seaquarium and ask where Lolita is: (305) 361-5705


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Liberating Lolita

November 18, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

In what promises to be the largest protest in history for a captive orca, the Miracle March for Lolita will take place at the Miami Seaquarium on January 17th, 2015. Lolita, who was stolen from her pod off the coast of Washington in 1970 when she was four, has been living in the smallest orca tank in the world for 44 years.

Miami Seaquarium

Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium

For the first 10 years, Lolita had a killer whale companion, Hugo, who reportedly died by pounding his head against the side of the tank. Since 1980, she has been alone, unable to interact with members of her own species or engage in any natural behaviors. Lolita can’t even dive because the the tank to which she is confined is shallower than the length of her body.

One of the Miracle March for Lolita organizers, Robin Jewell, says that over 1,500 people have signed up to participate on Facebook alone and that a film will be made to document the event. The goal, she says, is to shine a national spotlight on Lolita’s plight in an effort to liberate and return her to her pod. Lolita’s mother is still alive, and, even after 44 years, Lolita continues to vocalize in the calls used only by her family, which should help her reintegrate into her pod.

Seattle on Worldwide Day of Protests for Lolita

Seattle on Worldwide Day of Protests for Lolita

In addition to the grass roots movement to free Lolita, advocacy groups are using legal strategies to liberate her. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA and the Orca Network have petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to send her home on the grounds that her pod is protected as an endangered species. To date, Lolita has been denied the same protection as her family. The groups have also sued the USDA because Lolita is kept in a tank that is smaller than the minimum size required by the Animal Welfare Act and has no orca companion or shelter from the sun.

Lolita at Miami Seaquarium

Lolita at Miami Seaquarium

If and when Lolita is liberated, she will be transported by plane to a coastal sanctuary near her pod where she will be rehabilitated and, if possible, transitioned back into the wild. The Orca Conservancy and Orca Network have  published detailed plans for Lolita’s release.

Your Turn

The Miracle March for Lolita is an expensive endeavor, as the City of Miami is charging organizers for police officers, fireman, lane closures and other services. Please donate to help make this march a success.

In addition, please urge Miami Seaquarium owner Palace Entertainment to liberate Lolita so that the advocacy groups can take her home: PETA petition, Petition Site, Change.org petition, Born Free petition

Attend the Miracle March for Lolita and/or tell your friends about it.


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Aquarium Has Been Hiding Two Captured Orcas in Temporary Tanks For Ten Months

October 27, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

In December 2013, the Russian company VDNKh Park packed two killer whales into crates at the East end of the country and flew them 10 hours to Moscow to be displayed in an aquarium being built in the city.

In 2012, Namia is transported after being captured(photo: Russianorca.com)

In 2012, Namia is transported after being captured (photo: Russianorca.com)

More than 10 months later, the five and seven year old orcas are languishing in a temporary holding tank that are only 82 feet in diameter because the aquarium’s orca enclosure is still under construction and isn’t expected to be completed until early 2015. According to the Moscow Times, Russian police have refused to open a case on behalf of the orcas because the tank doesn’t meet the country’s definition of cruelty to animals.

Rusty temporary holding tank

Rusty temporary holding tank

Inflatable bubble covers tanks

Inflatable bubble covers tanks

The Russian animal rights group VITA says that guards and customers of a nearby exhibition center have, for months, reported “horrible sounds” and “cries” of killer whales. In spite of substantive evidence and a police report stating that the orcas are being held at this location, the aquarium has denied their presence — until yesterday, when video was released. Now, they are stating that the orcas were held secretly to that Muscovites would be surprised when they arrived at the aquarium.

The Director of the Far East Orca Russia Project (FEROP) says that holding killer whales in these circumstances is “completely abnormal” and that “we have no setting in Russia for keeping killer whales in captivity.” Other experts say that holding orcas captive can shorten their life and make them dangerous, as demonstrated in the documentary film Blackfish.

Your Turn

In light of the fact that an orca enclosure is being built at the new Moscow aquarium, Russia isn’t going to return these animals to their pod in the wild unless the world unites behind these orcas. Please sign the Take Part petition and PETA’s form letter to the Russian Ambassador to the UK asking for the orcas to be released back into the wild.

For the past 44 years, an orca named Lolita has been held captive at the Miami Seaquarium in a 60′ by 80′ pool, the smallest orca enclosure in the United States. For the first ten years of her captivity, Lolita had an orca companion named Hugo. In 1980, Hugo repeatedly smashed his head against the wall until he died. Lolita has been alone for 34 years.

Seaquarium-Lolita

Lolita has lived in a small, barren tank for 44 years

A massive march to free Lolita and return her to her to the wild will take place next to the Seaquarium on January 17th. Please share this information with your friends in Florida.


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