The statement issued by Miami Seaquarium in response to the recent press conference held by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with Mexican actress and animal advocate Kate del Castillo, provided a grim update on lone orca Lolita’s chances for freedom.
The dismissive statement, which references freeing the 50-year old whale as “cruel,” not only exhibits the organization’s outdated position on animal welfare, but stands at odds with the city’s efforts to grow into a forward-thinking and culturally rich metropolis.
Lolita is the oldest orca in captivity, held in the smallest tank in the United States, and the Seaquarium has done nothing to help its “beloved star.”
Measuring about 20 feet in length and weighing more than 7,000 pounds, Lolita survives in an 80-foot by 60-foot tank, with 20 feet at its deepest point. Even worse is the large concrete platform (meant for trainers to stand on during performances), which further limits her movement. In this state, Lolita is hardly an adequate source of education for children, let alone an ethical form of entertainment.
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Activists and experts around the world argue Lolita deserves a better life, and are adamant that she’s healthy enough to transition into a sanctuary in Washington State.
According to veterinarian Dr. Pierre Gallego, Lolita should be moved to a facility more adapted for an animal her size, ideally a shady sea pen. She currently does not have protection from Miami’s hot sun.
PETA has done an extraordinary job keeping Lolita’s story alive, and their ongoing legal actions and efforts are fully substantiated by leading experts.
As a lifetime animal lover turned advocate, I urge the owners of Miami Seaquarium to become heroes in Lolita’s tragic story, and would welcome the opportunity to help pave the way for a united solution.
Amy Zakarin, Miami