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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.

Filed under: Entertainment
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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)


Filed under: Entertainment, WIldlife
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In Spain and Egypt, Animal Abusers Become Victims

February 18, 2015 by Leave a Comment


News & Opinion

In the first half of February, two animals used for entertainment attacked their abusers – a bull used in Spanish bullfight and a lion used in an Egyptian circus. Given that many videos of similar attacks have gone viral, why do people still participate in bullfights, circus acts and other exploitive events? Do the thrills and profits really outweigh the grave risks? And is the public supposed to sympathize with the animal abusers when they become the victims?

BULL GORES MAN: On February 14th, a 20-year old man from Georgia was severely gored during a running of the bulls and bullfight festival in a small town near Salamanca, Spain. The 16 inch gash to his thigh was the worst the local doctor had ever seen.

American man gored during a running of the bulls event in Spain

American man gored during a running of the bulls event in Spain

During these festivals, which take place in villages across Spain, bulls run through the streets until they arrive at the local arena, where they are killed in bullfights. The fact that event organizers have medical units on hand to treat injured (human) participants should be reason alone to outlaw these medieval competitions.

LION POUNCES TRAINER: On February 6th, a lion pounced on his trainer during a circus performance in Egypt. The victims’s late husband, who was also a trainer, was killed by a lion in 2004.

How many more people have to be gored, pounced, maimed and killed by captive animals before government regulators and elected officials ban these barbaric events?

In the United States, three high profile animal attacks involving an elephant, tiger and orca have shined an international spotlight on the use of captive wild animals in entertainment.

1. In 1994, a 20 year old circus elephant named Tyke killed his trainer during a performance and injured 13 others as he bolted out of the arena and through the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii. Tyke was shot almost 100 times before dying. The tragic incident was caught on video – from start to finish.

2. Siegfried & Roy, performers who used white lions and tigers in their Las Vegas show, had the most popular act in town from 1990 to 2003, when a white tiger bit Roy on the neck, severely injuring him and permanently shutting down their show.

Siegfried & Roy (photo: Las Vegas Sun)

Siegfried & Roy (photo: Las Vegas Sun)

3. Tilikum, the world’s largest captive killer whale, has killed three people, including Dawn Brancheau, a senior trainer at SeaWorld. Blackfish, a film that documents the Brancheau attack and its aftermath, has made Tilikum an international symbol of animals held captive for entertainment.

The late Dawn Brancheau stands on Tilkum's face during a performance

The late Dawn Brancheau stands on Tilkum’s face during a performance

Your Turn

To learn more about captive animals in entertainment and find out how you can help, please visit Born Free in the U.S. or Captive Animals Protection Society in Europe.


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Animal Exploiters Recklessly Dig in Their Heels

December 12, 2014 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

Once an animal rights campaign is embraced by the mainstream public, the corporation that is targeted would be wise to stop defending, and start fixing, the issue in question. But all too often, companies fight to maintain the status quo, prioritizing short-term profits over their reputations and even the long-term viability of their organizations. This week, two companies foolishly dug in their heels by defending practices that have been rejected by the public and, in many cases, by their own customers.

NATIONAL PORK PRODUCERS COUNCIL

In a letter to the editor of the NY Times in response to an opinion piece criticizing gestation crates, the President of the National Pork Producers Council, Howard Hill, writes that the crates are humane and “allow farmers to provide individual care to sows, monitor their feed intake and eliminate aggression among sows.”

gestation crate

Is Mr. Hill living on the same planet as the rest of us? Surely he knows that even meat eaters reject the most intensive forms of farm animal confinement. In a recent poll taken in New Jersey, for example, 93% of respondents said they oppose pig gestation crates. The ship has sailed, Mr. Hill. If you want members of the public to take “pig producers” seriously, then you need to eliminate, not justify, the metal cages that drive pigs (and activists) insane. Individualized care? Really?

SEAWORLD

On December 9th, activists in San Diego hand-delivered a petition to the Mayor asking him to help retire Corky (aka Shamu), an orca who has been performing tricks in a barren pool since she was plucked out of the ocean in 1969 — 45 years ago!

Delivering petition to retire Corky

Delivering petition to retire Corky

In response to the “Retire Corky” petition, SeaWorld issued a statement describing the activists as “a handful of extremists” who are “out of touch with reality” and stated that Corky is “happy and healthy.”

Corky gave birth 7 times in captivity. All of her babies died in a matter of days.

Corky gave birth 7 times in captivity. All of her babies died in a matter of days.

Those words might have resonated with the public before Blackfish created an anti-captivity revolution. Now, they make SeaWorld sound delusional. Does their stock price have to drop to $0 before they accept the fact that the whales who once earned them billions are now poised to sink the entire company?


Filed under: Entertainment, Food, Opinion
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A Thanksgiving Message to SeaWorld: “Now You Sea It. Now You Don’t”

November 27, 2014 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

In a recent press interview, SeaWorld’s CEO, Jim Atchison, said the park’s orcas have “great lives, full lives” and “enriching and socially well-adjusted lives.” One month earlier, SeaWorld’s senior veterinarian, Christopher Dodd, said, “I can unequivocally state that our whales are thriving, both mentally and physically.”

SeaWorld San Diego (photo: Mike Blake/Reuters)

SeaWorld San Diego (photo: Mike Blake/Reuters)

By defending killer whale captivity, Atchison and Dodd, who are cementing shameful legacies for themselves, have chosen to dig in their heels instead of creating coastal sanctuaries where the orcas can be rehabilitated before potentially being released. Their focus on short-term profits is bad not only for the whales but also for the long-term prospects of SeaWorld, which could go out of business if it doesn’t adapt:

Seaworld1

seaworld2

Happy ThanksKilling, SeaWorld. As you continue to mentally and physically kill your whale prisoners, members of the thinking public will continue to kill your extraordinarily cruel business.


Filed under: Entertainment, Opinion
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