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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, petition, Born Free petition

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

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