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Feb 16, 2007
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Petition
Location: Florida, United States
Hello fellow animal lovers. My name is Jesi, and I want to share the story of Lolita with you.

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For several years now there has been a debate going on about the oldest, loneliest, and most deprived orca in captivity today.

Forced to live in a substandard sized tank, for the past 30 years, Lolita has performed reliably, entertaining visitors to the Miami Seaquarium with her power and grace. Lolita simply has no other choice but to do tricks. Trainers will deprive her of either food or attention and affection if she does not perform on cue. She is very intelligent, however, and tends to want to accomodate what is asked of her, so very little coercion is required. On occasion she has refused to perform, but fortunately for her mental health those angry or depressed moods seem to be rare. This even temperament may be a clue to her astounding longevity in captivity.

Her main problems have resulted from her solitary confinement and separation from her family, conbined with a lack of normal physical activity and environmental stimulation. Lolita's only orca friend is a children's inflatable toy. Lolita is the last surviving killer whale in captivity from Washington State, and 23 of her relatives who were present with her at capture are still alive.

Like most, probably all, orcas, Lolita yearns to bond with another caring, sentient being. In the absence of any other whales, she looks toward her familiar trainers for companionship. Marcia Henton was Lolita's trainer from 1988 until the fall of 1995. Henton seemed to respond to Lolita's desire for a companion. "It was like having a best friend that you get to see every day. She likes a lot of close contact" she said. "It's a very unique experience. When she comes over to me, when we're interacting together, she looks right into my eyes. It almost feels like...my soul is open to her," says Henton.

Lolita has also demonstrated her incredible memory. Henton talks about finding an old hand signal book at the park that hasn't been used since she took over as her trainer. Just to see what would happen, she tried out some of the signals. The results surprised even her: "I can walk up and give her a signal she hasn't seen in at least eight years, and she remembers it."

Lolita is the oldest whale in captivity today. Only Corky, held at the San Diego Sea World was taken before Lolita and remains alive today. Lolita remains healthy, but orcas in tanks usually die of massive internal infections that prove lethal within a few days or hours of first detection. So courageous and yet so gentle, but how much longer can she stay alive in a concrete bowl?

[http://www.orcanetwork.org/captivity/lolitatoday.html]

If you would like to know more about Lolita, please click
HERE and HERE
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Posted: Feb 16, 2007 7:28am

 

 
 
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Alf I.
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