Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
27 June 1999 Issue

By [email protected]

I am writing to you on behalf of the Tokitae Foundation. It is a foundation set up to release Lolita (a captive whale at the Miami Seaquarium). The foundation wishes to move her from her current atrocious conditions and move her to a sea pen in the waters where she was first captured in the State of Washington and then be rehabilitated for a hopeful reunion with her family (much like Keiko, the "Free Willy" star). Lolita's family is from a pod of the most intensively studied orca populations in the United States. If her rehabilitation is not possible then she will spend the rest of her days in retirement, fully cared for in this pen instead of performing twice daily at the Seaquarium in her small tank. After performing for 29 years, we believe Lolita is due some rest. We are simply trying to gain as much attention to Lolita as possible.

Lolita and others from her pod were captured in 1970 with a mother and two babies slaughtered in the attempt. Lolita was only 6 years old and most likely very aware of her environment and the security of her family. She was then transported to Miami and since then she has been performing twice daily as their main attraction. She originally shared her small tank with another orca from her pod called Hugo, who was captured a few years before. At age 15 Hugo died of a brain hemorrhage after continually beating his head against the tank. (The Seaquarium states that Hugo died from a viral infection).

Lolita is held in a tank that is the smallest and oldest in the United States and it does not pass the U.S. Department of Agriculture's regulations. We recently came across the architectural plans for Lolita's tank and now have proof that either the Miami Seaquarium lied to the USDA (i.e. the USDA did not take the appropriate legal procedures in measuring her tank) or the USDA is aware that her tank does not meet their regulations but chose to ignore it. Lolita's tank is split into two by a stage area in the center. The USDA gained their width measurement by measuring over the stage area and including it with the total width measurement (as if Lolita can swim through it). This makes their width measurement very questionable. Lolita is 22 feet in length. USDA regulations require a minimum depth of 11 feet (half her body length). The back half area of her tank known as the medical area is only 10 feet deep (not the 12 feet the USDA and Seaquarium has stated since the 1960's) and the other half of her tank is 18 feet, sloping to 12 feet at the sides (stated as 20 feet). We consistently contact the USDA but to no avail. Also, we were recently able to gain the water temperature of her tank which we found to be 77 Fahrenheit and not the 55 Fahrenheit the Seaquarium states.

For more information on this situation, see the following website:

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