For years, there have been exhausting efforts to have Lolita released from the prison she lives in, to bring her home to her L Pod family. The time is now. 43 years of captivity, 43 years of misery. Lolita is a POW, any way you look at it. Her captivity is ludicrous, shameful, horrendous. It is a travesty.
In July, the petition to include Lolita in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of the Southern Resident Killer Whales gained the support of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDC). The WDC also supports Lolita's retirement and rehabilitation in a sea pen in her natural waters, where she will have the opportunity Keiko did not - to be reunited with her family pod, including her mother, Ocean Sun. In 2005, the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW's), Lolita's family, were listed under the ESA....all of them, except Lolita. Although it was known she is from L Pod and the only captive Southern Resident killer whale to live past the 1980's, Lolita was excluded. The petition urges the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to rectify the unjustified and illegal exclusion, thereby extending ESA protections to ALL members of the Southern Resident Killer Whales. The Petition states;
“Without any explanation, or any notice to the public or opportunity for public comment, the National Marine Fisheries Service stated in the 2005 final rule that the “endangered” listing “does not include killer whales…placed in captivity prior to listing, nor does it include their captive born progeny.” Since the 35 other captive Southern Resident killer whales died decades before the listing decision, leaving behind no captive born progeny, this provision applies exclusively to Lolita. In fact, Lolita is the only captive member of any endangered species to be summarily excluded from a listing decision in this manner.
No explanation was offered for Lolita’s exclusion from the listing because no legitimate explanation exists. Lolita’s biological heritage is undisputed. The Endangered Species Act unquestionably applies to captive members of a species and the wholesale exclusion of captive members of a listed species is in excess of the agency’s authority. Lolita’s exclusion serves only one purpose: it protects the commercial interests of the Miami Seaquarium. The Endangered Species Act specifically precludes agency consideration of whether listing a species would cause the holder of any member of the species any economic harm. Thus Lolita’s exclusion violates the Act.”
This petition, submitted by PETA, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Orca Network, was recently in danger as the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) submitted a petition on August 2, 2012 to delist the SRKW's from the protection of the ESA, however, on August 2, 2013 the NMFS denied the petition, concluding that none of the new information it had reviewed was inconsistent with the Service’s determination, in 2005, that the Southern Residents should be listed. This was the correct decision. It is now time for the NMFS to make another correct decision, and that is to undo their wrong, and include Lolita in the ESA.
Sadly, Lolita's plight is more complex than just being excluded from the ESA. The tiny pool she has called home for 43 years is in at least seven violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). APHIS, who is overseen by the US Department of Agriculture and who is responsible for enforcing the AWA, has for years failed to do so, and has allowed the Miami Seaquarium to continue to exploit Lolita for monetary gain knowing these violations exist. Lolita's violations exceed written code as well. She has been alone since March 4, 1980, when her tank mate, Hugo, also of the SRKW’s, repeatedly bashed his head against the tank walls in what has been described as an act of suicide. The Miami Seaquarium honored Hugo, his tragic death and 13 years of service by disposing of his beautiful body, reportedly, in the Miami Dade dump. For 33 years, Lolita has been in her tiny pool - alone.
I implore you to stand with me and all Lolita's supporters to bring her home. She needs us - we are all she has. Please sign, share and tweet this link to everyone you know.
August 8, 2013 marked the 43rd anniversary of Lolita’s brutal capture from Penn Cove, Whidbey Island.
Photo courtesy of SaveLolita.com
Honorable Penny Pritzer
Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker,
Try to imagine a 3 year old daughter beside her mother - happy, together, and free. Then, in an extraordinary act of violence, that same 3 year old daughter is brutally and without compassion, stolen from her mother.
On August 8, 1970 a 3 year old daughter, Lolita, was brutally stolen from her mother, Ocean Sun. For more than 43 years mother and baby have been separated, but their story does not end here, nor does their fate of once again being a family.
You have the power and the opportunity to right a serious injustice of the past and reunite mother with daughter. I implore you to urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to include Lolita in the Endangered Species Act for the Southern Resident Killer Whales, whose numbers now total a mere 81. Lolita is the sole exclusion to the ESA listing in 2005 for the Southern Residents, who are the most well-known and researched in all the world. Lolita is from L Pod, her heritage undisputed.
Lolita, sole exclusion to the ESA, has been in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium since her arrival more than 43 years ago, shortly after her brutal capture where 3 infants and 1 juvenile were killed during the capture of 7 baby orcas. She has been completely alone, with no orca companion, for more than 33 years in the smallest orca tank in the United States. Her tank is in at least 7 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Secretary Pritzker, I am sure that in this life you have seen your fair share or wrongdoings and terrible injustices, perhaps even personally. I ask you, as do the many who have signed this petition for Lolita, to please take a stand against this travesty, to offer hope for a brighter future, and to help bring Lolita home. Please don’t let her die alone in that tank. She deserves the Endangered Species Act protection as that of her Southern Resident family.
I believe in my heart that this letter will find you and that Lolita’s story will touch your heart.
Lynn M. Timm
671 Kintail Drive
Hailey, ID 83333