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Fallacies with the Miami Seaquarium’s “Lolita the Killer Whale” Page Update

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Fallacies with the Miami Seaquarium’s “Lolita the Killer Whale” Page Update

From Save Lolita
June 2012

Miami Seaquarium website: http://miamiseaquarium.com/

“During playtime, she enjoys playing with her favorite enrichment devices; these include her wet suit blanket and crushed ice.”

...because she consumes all other “play” devices and has been restricted to a wet suit and ice.

“Lolita also enjoys playing with the hose, which she uses to massage her body and clean her beautiful teeth.”

...In the wild she could kelp or caress her family members

...her teeth, along with most other captive orcas are prone to diseases and infections that can lead to death due to gnawing on cement and metal gates.

...Painful medical procedures know as pulpotomies are often preformed by drilling holes into the teeth so they can be flushed out by a water pick daily. If they are improperly flushed infections can occur.

“Trainers have the ability to free swim with her, which they are able to do since she enjoys their company. “

...nice advertisement to try to “one-up” SeaWorld, which is not allowed to put trainers in the water with killer whales per OSHA ruling, due to a gruesome trainer death and numerous injuries.

“There is no scientific evidence that Lolita could survive in the open waters of the ocean.”

...Lolita was estimated to be between the ages of 4-6 when captured, wild orcas have been known to develop hunting and foraging skills by 4 years old.

...Lolita’s family is well researched and tracked, if she was retired she would be reintroduced to her family, a number of which are still alive from when she was captured and would likely remember her.

“whims of a small group of individuals who have no firsthand experience working with a killer whale.”

...Many individuals and groups advocating for Lolita’s retirement have first hand experience working with wild and captive cetaceans along with advanced degrees. Some scientists supporting her retirement are among the most world-renowned killer whale biologists.

“For 40 years, Lolita has been dependent upon being hand-fed daily. Scientists agree that she has lost her ability to protect and feed herself in the wild.”

...In a study reported in 1993 by Newman and Markowitz in which results showed that a captive killer whale caught in 1969, Yaka, will pursue, capture and eat live fish. The whales in this study used echolocation while in pursuit of fish, as well as at other times.

...Many well respected scientists that have specialized in killer whale research including Kenneth Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research agree that Lolita would be a good candidate for rehabilitation, retirement, and/or release.

...She is hand fed but her diet consists of frozen fish, which decreases the nutritional value, so vitamins have to be added to supplement her.

...It is not know what species of fish Lolita is fed daily. The Seaquarium just announces that salmon is her favorite (because salmon is what she was taught to forage for by her family growing up). During shows it is apparent that capelin and salmon are fed to her, but due to the coral coloration and girth of the salmon she is fed during shows it would be logical to assume that her diet of salmon consists of farmed Atlantic salmon, not the natural wild chinook salmon she would consume naturally. Farmed salmon is also much more affordable than wild chinook.

...killer whales are atop the food chain and have no natural predators other than man.

“She shares her habitat with Pacific white-sided dolphins – animals that could actually be part of her diet if she were in the wild. “

...Lolita is a southern resident killer whale. SRKW’s are an ecotype of killer whales that are categorized differently because of their primary food source and social structure. They obtain 96% of their dietary needs from salmoniods, and the remaining 4% from other fish or aquatic invertebrates. Resident killer whales do not eat cetaceans, like Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) transient killer whales do.

“Her habitat has been certified by the USDA as “.meets the intent and the letter of the law with regard to space requirements for orcas.””

...This is because APHIS refuses acknowledge that in the center of her tank a SOILD performance island that is obstructing her direct swim path into the medical pool, which renders her tank only 35’ in width, not the required 48’. The presented 65’ the Seaquarium advertises is including 12 feet of solid concrete blocking her swim path along with the performance tank and medical tank.

“USDA goes on to say that her habitat, “far exceeds the minimum requirements established by the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) regulations.”

...AWA regulations state “Under the law Section 3.109 of the Animal Welfare Act states: cetaceans must be housed with at least one compatible animal of the same or biologically related species.”

...Pacific white-sided dolphins do not posses the social or intellectual stimulation that killer whales need for proper enrichment.

“Lolita has learned to trust humans completely, and this longstanding behavioral trust would be dangerous for her if she were returned to Puget Sound, where commercial boat traffic and human activity are heavy, pollution is a serious issue and the killer whale population has been listed as an endangered species by the National Marine Fisheries Service.”

...Well it is true that her family the SRKWs are listed on the ESL, this is in much part due to the captive entertainment industry taking large amounts of their population for captivity display and killing many others during the process.

...Although SRKWs are listed as an endangered species their populations has remained relatively constant with 88 current members, including a new L-pod (Lolita’s pod) calf that was just documented.

...SRKWs spend their summer months in the Salish Sea, they rarely enter Puget Sound, and spend the winter months foraging from N. California to S. Alaska.

...Miami Seaquarium pumps in water for Lolita’s tank from Biscayne Bay, a highly polluted water source located adjacent to the Port of Miami.

“The tragic story of Keiko, the killer whale of “Free Willy” fame serves as a stark reminder of this horrific proposal”

...Keiko was rescued from an inadequate marine mammal park in Mexico, where he was suffering from malnourishment and disease. He was rehabilitated in Oregon and taught to hunt own his own. He was released after many years of rehabilitation and survived for five years in the wild traveling 100’s of miles and hunting on his own.

“He died alone, of pneumonia, unable to fend for himself and protect himself from the toxins and viruses found in the ocean.”

...Inquiries were made to all oceanaria that maintain killer whales in North America. Causes of death determined at necropsy included mediastinal abscesses, pyometra, pneumonia, influenza, salmonellosis, nephritis, Chediak-Higashi syndrome, fungus infection, ruptured aorta, cerebral hemorrhage and a perforated post-pyloric ulcer.

...Pneumonia is actually a quite common cause of death in captive cetaceans, you can obtain this information by requesting a MMIR (marine mammal inventory report) from any aquarium in the United States.

“The similarities between the Keiko story and what some individuals have asked us to do with Lolita are startling. “

...Not many similarities exist between Lolita and Keiko except they were both taken from their families and forced into a life of slavery for human entertainment.

...Keiko was a transient from an illusive Icelandic pod, Lolita is resident from the most well researched killer whale pod in the world, inhabiting the Salish Sea for 6 months every year. Their movements are tracked and pod members are known by saddle patch and dorsal fin markings.

...Keiko was estimated to be caught at around 2 years of age, still developing his hunting and foraging techniques. Lolita was estimated to be captured between 4-6 years of age, observations of SRKWs have shown juveniles in that age range with developed hunting and foraging skills.

...Keiko was a male, which are known to have shorter lifespans than female killer whales. Lolita is a female with members of her family alive estimated to be ~100 years old, although Lolita’s lifespan will be drastically reduced in captivity she is hardly middle aged when compared to wild populations.