By ANABELLA ZAMBRANO
Since the sensational, real tale of Keiko’s 1993 movie “Free Willy” came out, there has been numerous protests and campaigns to attempt Lolita to be the next killer whale to be returned to the ocean. Unfortunately, a federal appeals court has ditched once again Lolita’s freedom due because of the fact the 51-year-old killer whale is not fit to return to the ocean.
Lolita is the loneliest orca living in the smallest killer whale tank in the nation. She was taken from her pod as a baby and was sold for only $6,000. She’s been captive for 47 years and now suffers serious blindness from pool cleaning chemicals, deadly skin rashes from the sun, and head trauma due to slamming her head against the tank wall.
According to WLRN, a suit that involved claims of violating the Endangered Species Act due to the “harming” and forcing Lolita to do tricks she does not understand and teeth scratches from other dolphins that sometimes share her tank are just some of the mistreatment from which Lolita is suffering.
If it was not for social media, people would never find out that every Sunday animal activists gather together at the gate of the Miami Seaquarium to educate and encourage families to not buy a ticket and stop supporting the real mistreatment the park hides from its customers.
Thanks to another documentary called “Blackfish” in 2013, people have become more aware of the horrible and terrible conditions and routines killer whale orcas have to go through on a daily basis at Sea World. It showcases the psychological trauma the innocent orcas experience.
I do not believe this cause is getting enough attention in the news. Not enough reports are being made and not even broadcast stations are talking about it. The parking lot of Miami Seaquarium is more than triple the size the pool tank where Lolita lives.
This is not the first time Lolita’s case has been brought up to court. The non-profit advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, asked to reopen the case even though it was dismissed by a lower court.
“This ruling sentences a highly intelligent, deeply lonely and distressed orca to a lifetime of physical and psychological harm, confined to a tiny concrete cell without family, friends, or freedom, it ignores today’s understanding of the way orcas suffer deeply in captivity and PETA will continue pushing for Lolita’s release into a protected seaside sanctuary in her home waters,” PETA attorney Jared Goodman said.
News organizations should report about this incident. They need to take action to bring awareness about Lolita because the more people know, the more chances Lolita has of at least being transferred to a sanctuary. Lolita will be better in a sanctuary because no orca does the things she does in the wild; it is not in her nature.
The internet is a great outlet for news organizations that are advocates for Animal Rights. But if more news outlet join the cause, I am sure we can make a difference.
Animals that are used for entertainment suffer a lifetime of torture and mistreatment. If Lolita is not fit to return to the wild because she has been in captivity for too long, that is like saying kidnapped people cannot escape because they won’t function in society since they have been kidnapped for too long.