From This Dish is Veg, August 2010
Underdog Entertainment, a New York-based production company has enlisted the talents of Daniel Azarian, director of television commercials and branded entertainment, to produce a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that brings attention to the plight of an orca named Lolita.
Lolita was captured forty years ago this month, taken from her pod family in Puget Sound and transferred to a tank at Miami Seaquarium—the tank is a mere 20-feet-deep only four times her size at its widest point.
The emotional PSA brings a human element into the situation by showing images that we typically see when raising awareness for children in need, homelessness, hunger, and other important causes.
"I wanted to appeal to people who might not understand how unethical Lolita's situation is by presenting her predicament through human eyes," explained Azarian. "Research clearly shows that orcas are sentient, emotional, and highly intelligent beings who are aware of their surroundings. To see such a beautiful 22-foot creature in a tiny 35-foot-wide tank seems inhumane. I felt compelled to do something, so I set the wheels in motion to create this PSA."
Since her capture in 1970, Lolita has been kept in a tank that violates the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) standards for size requirements. APHIS is an operating unit of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Lolita is approximately 21 feet long and 7,000 pounds. Per the guidelines, the tank for a killer whale the size of Lolita must be a minimum of 48 feet wide in either direction with a straight line of travel across the middle. Lolita’s tank is only 35 feet wide from the front wall to the slide out (work island) barrier. It is 20 feet deep at the deepest point and a mere 12 feet deep around the edges. The Miami Seaquarium is in need of major repairs, and per the Marine Mammal Inventory Report, has a substantial death rate for their animals.
Image from SaveLolita
Several animal welfare organizations are hoping to retire the 45-year-old Lolita so she can live out the remainder of her life in a more humane environment. A proposed plan would move the orca to a transitional coastal sea pen sanctuary in her home waters of Washington state where she would be rehabilitated and eventually given the option to go back to open waters—if there are no safety concerns. While many organizations are willing to hammer out the details and implement the plan, to date Seaquarium's owners have rejected the idea.
For more information about Lolita and the retirement plan, visit SaveLolita.