Tag Archives: southern resident orca

Is the captive Southern Resident orca Lolita dying?

Miami 6 February 2022 – PETA has just learned from confidential sources of egregious developments and animal failings at the Miami Seaquarium. Beloved Lolita the orca—whose small, shallow, barren concrete tank has been closed to the public for months—is reportedly suffering from pneumonia and is in danger of not receiving adequate care. The current attending veterinarian, Shelby Loos, reportedly possessed no orca experience when she was hired in 2019. She left in 2020 but was rehired last year after the Seaquarium fired its longtime head veterinarian after she expressed concern about the extent of animal suffering at the park.

“Lolita has suffered for five decades in this despicable animal prison, and if she has pneumonia, that greatly increases the risk of dying she faces in this inadequate facility,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman. “PETA is calling on the Seaquarium to shut down before any more sentient beings suffer and die in its tiny tanks.”

The whistleblowers also shared with PETA horrific photographs of Abaco, a 19-year-old dolphin who drowned after his rostrum became entangled in a net separating two pools and, as his necropsy revealed, had also incurred injuries from being attacked by incompatible dolphins. Abaco was one of six animals who died at the Seaquarium in 2019 and 2020, all from trauma-related causes—including to the head and neck with hemorrhaging.

In September, PETA obtained a damning 17-page federal inspection report revealing a slew of animal welfare violations at the Seaquarium, including that it had failed to provide Lolita and several other animals with sufficient shade, leaving them in direct sunlight, which can cause painful damage to their eyes. This is the first time the USDA cited the facility for insufficient shade, even though PETA has been raising the issue for years. Lolita has been held alone there for more than 40 years. She displays repetitive and abnormal behavior, which, according to marine mammal experts, indicates severe psychological trauma. The Seaquarium is currently under further investigation by the USDA.

From Peta’s media release

Update on the sick little wild orca, (J 50) – new treatment plans

Biologists believe that Scarlet (J 50) may have a round worm infection, similar to what another wild calf, Springer (A 73) had when she was found lost in the Puget Sound in 2002. The good news is that Springer was successfully treated and returned to her family of Northern Resident orcas, where she has thrived and has had two calves – hopefully Scarlet will have a similar outcome.

Scarlet (J50) with her sister, Echo (J42)
NOAA Fisheries. Permit number 21368 Credit: Katy Foster

#J50/Scarlet Update (8/17): Test results from the health samples collected from J50/Scarlet are starting to come in from several top laboratories around the country.
The first finding comes from a fecal sample collected last weekend from a group of three J Pod whales: J16/Slick, J42/Echo, and J50/Scarlet. It showed moderate levels of Contracaecum, a nematode parasite that has previously been found in killer whales and other marine mammals.
The worm is not usually a problem in healthy animals. However, in animals that are emaciated or are otherwise compromised, the parasite can penetrate the stomach lining, introducing bacterial infection to the bloodstream, or it can bore into internal organs.
While we cannot be sure the sample came from J50/Scarlet, the veterinary team has updated her treatment priorities to include a dewormer, in addition to an antibiotic. Both have proven successful and safe in other cetaceans.
The treatment should help J50/Scarlet by reducing bacterial and parasitic burdens on her system so she can start regaining the weight she has lost. The whales remain in open waters off the west side of Vancouver Island, beyond the reach of the response teams. 
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other partners continue their watch for signs of J Pod’s return to the more protected waters of the Salish Sea. ” [Media release].

Photo: J50/Scarlet swims near Point Roberts, Wash., on Aug. 10. (Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786.)