The Miami Seaquarium Is Unprepared To Protect Captive Orca Lolita And Dolphins From The Gulf Oil Spill.

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This came my way via Orca Network, and was written by a guy named John Kielty. As a first time visitor to Seaworld, he happened to witness the events surrounding the death of trainer Dawn Bracheau, and resolved to make a difference to the whales in captivity. He has stepped up to the plate, and took it upon himself to write and distribute the following letter. And you too can make a difference; please take a minute to copy and send his letter of concern about Miami Seaquarium’s irresponsible lack of foresight and planning – a lack which is now putting the captive orca Lolita in extreme jeapordy.

From John’s Facebook page:

Please tell USDA & APHIS to enforce the Animal Welfare Act! Beyond allowing Miami Seaquarium to house orca Lolita in an undersized, illegal tank, MSQ has no plan to protect their marine mammals when the gulf oil spill contaminates their waters in August… and USDA & APHIS are doing nothing about it!

As we know, Miami Seaquarium has been permitted to operate utilizing a smaller than minimum size for Lolita’s pool due to being “grandfathered� under outdated regulations. We also know that Miami Seaquarium is pursuing a multi-million dollar claim against BP to upgrade/update their filtration system as water may become contaminated from the Gulf spill. Miami Seaquarium and its owners Andrew and Arthur Hertz have no plans for the wellbeing of Lolita or their other marine life, including 30 dolphins, 15 seals and sea lions, dozens of reptiles/fish, sea turtles, and at least eight manatees. They are merely interested in protecting their profits. It is time to tell United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) & Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to enforce the laws and regulations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Please cut and paste the following letter, sign your name and send to the email addresses shown below. Feel free to edit, personalize & share any way you see fit. Thank you for your support!… and a special THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this letter possible by providing me with the support, information and resources I needed! Thank you all!!!!!

John Kielty’s letter:

RE: Miami Seaquarium disaster contingency plan & safety for orca Lolita

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Animal Care (AC)

To whom this may concern:

As you may be aware, Andrew Hertz, General Manager of Miami Seaquarium, Miami, FL has recently stated his intention to file a $3 to $5 million dollar claim against BP citing his requirement to upgrade the marine park’s filtration system should the waters of Biscayne Bay become contaminated from oil resulting from the Deep Water Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico ( By this action, the Hertz family has admittedly demonstrated that they are not prepared, equipped or otherwise capable of carrying out a disaster contingency plan to provide emergency sources of water and/or arrangements for relocating marine mammals as is required by APHIS Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an 80% chance that the oil will hit the Miami area in August and I am deeply concerned the Miami Seaquarium wildlife is in jeopardy. In addition to Killer Whale Lolita the lives of 30 dolphins, 15 seals and sea lions, dozens of reptiles/fish, sea turtles, and at least eight manatees are in peril. Your immediate action is required to ensure their safety.

Should the Hertz family be successful in securing funds for this major reconstruction effort, it is my contention that Miami Seaquarium be required by USDA-APHIS to bring ALL provisions of animal welfare, including marine mammal housing size, into compliance with current APHIS Regulations under the Animal Welfare Act.

Since the brutal capture of killer whale (orca) Lolita in 1970, she has been kept in a tank that is illegal by current APHIS standards for space requirements as provided in Regulation 9 CFR section 3.104. Now 42 years old, Lolita (also known as Tokitae) is approximately 21 feet long and 7,000 pounds. Her tank is 20 feet deep at the deepest point, a mere 12 feet deep around the edges and 35 feet wide. Lolita’s life of misery in these substandard confines has continued long enough. The Hertz family has been profiting from Lolita’s exploitation for more than 40 years and the time has come to end her suffering and provide her the protection and quality of life she deserves. They should not be allowed to continue operating with no emergency contingency plans, under outdated regulations, and making piecemeal improvements aimed solely at protecting profits. Now is the time to act on Lolita’s behalf. Time is running out!

As a part of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at The US Department of Agriculture, I know that you are concerned with the future of marine mammals in captivity and the urgent crisis developing at the Miami Seaquarium. Please do your part and ensure immediate action is taken and provisions are provided that require Miami Seaquarium’s compliance with all current APHIS Regulations under the Animal Welfare Act for this emergency and any future construction and/or upgrades at their marine mammal park. If the Hertz family finds that complying with all current APHIS Regulations is not cost feasible, alternative viable solutions are under development to provide a safe retirement for Lolita in her native habitat in the Pacific Northwest. Details of this proposal can be found here: There are many wonderful people and organizations willing to work with the Miami Seaquarium and are ready, willing and waiting to move forward with a rehabilitation/retirement plan for Lolita.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Send to:
USDA-APHIS-Animal Care:
USDA-APHIS-Animal Care East:
USDA-APHIS-Policy & Programs:
Abbey Shaffer- Legislative Teams Leader:
Christopher Needham- Legislative Affairs Specialist:
James Ivy- USDA-APHIS:
Bethany Jones- Deputy Administrator of Legislative and Public Affairs:
Edward Avalos- Under Secretary for Marketing & Regulatory Programs:
Kathleen Merrigan- Deputy Secretary of Agriculture:
Tom Vilsak- Secretary of Agriculture:

Comma separated if you’d prefer a single bulk mailing:,,,,,,,,,

Also, please cut and paste this letter into the contact forms of these Senators:
Senator Maria Cantwell:
Senator Patty Murray:
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida:

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