Where’s the proof?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is the governing agency which oversees marine mammals in captivity. Their duty is to ensure that marine parks are upholding the laws of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Section 3.104 of the AWA states that the minimum horizontal dimension of a killer whale tank must be at least 48 feet in length in a STRAIGHT line of travel. APHIS though neglects to enforce Section 3.104 of the AWA in regards to the Miami Seaquarium’s killer whale tank that houses Lolita. For over 40 years, Lolita has lived in this tank.
Lolita is approximately 21 feet long. Her tank is divided into two parts, the main pool and medical pool with a cement trainer’s platform separating the two pools that goes all the way to the bottom of the tank. In order for her tank to be 48 feet in length, more than 2 of Lolita’s body length would have to line up horizontally in the main pool. A quick glance at Lolita’s tank, in my opinion, is proof enough that her tank is NOT 48 feet in length, therefore in violation of the AWA.
As a concerned citizen, I wrote a letter to APHIS regarding my concerns that Lolita’s tank was not 48 feet in length. The response I received was quite disturbing. I was told Lolita’s tank is actually 60 x 80 feet.
Chester Gipson, Deputy Administer of Animal Care for APHIS wrote to me stating: “While many people have expressed concern about the size of Lolita’s pool, our measurements indicate that it meets the AWA space requirements for marine mammals. The figures specifying the minimum space requirements are taken from section 3.104 ofthe AWA regulations. The minimum horizontal dimension (MHD) requirement is 48 feet; the actual MHD measurement is 80 feet in one direction and 60 feet in the other. We did NOT include the medical pool area in our MHD measurements of the main pool. Therefore, use of the medical pool area does not diminish the size of the main pool.”
GOOGLE EARTH SHOWS A DIFFERENT STORY
If you include the measurements of the main pool, the medical pool, along with the 10 foot wide concrete trainer’s platform, then APHIS’s measurements of 60 feet are correct. Yet APHIS claims the main pool is 60 feet by 80 feet wide, NOT including the medical pool. Google Earth’s measurements match APHIS’s claim that one width of Lolita’s tank is 80 feet, but it also shows Lolita’s tank is BELOW the minimum standards of the AWA going the opposite direction.
Google Earth makes no claims that their measurements are accurate, yet it is quite obvious to the naked eye that Lolita’s tank is NOT 60 feet wide as APHIS claims it is. There is absolutely no way almost 3 times Lolita’s body length can line up from the edge of the main pool to the trainer’s platform.
Why is APHIS protecting the Miami Seaquarium when they are being paid to protect the animals housed there? Where is their proof that Lolita’s tank is 60 feet wide? We, as tax payers, are entitled to see proof of APHIS’s measurements that show Lolita’s tank is “legal”. To date, APHIS has failed to provide any type of evidence disputing the claims that Lolita’s tank is illegally sized according to the AWA.
APHIS’s only proof to me and many others is their statement that “Lolita’s tank meets the AWA minimum requirements.” It is time for APHIS to step up to the plate and quit turning a blind eye to the illegal conditions Lolita has been living in for over 40 years.
1. Write, call or email APHIS. Send a Freedom of Information Act request asking them for the proof that Lolita’s tank is legally sized.
USDA APHIS Animal Care: email@example.com
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
2. Boycott the Miami Seaquarium. Tell your friends, family, everyone you can to stay away from the Miami Seaquarium.
4. Contact your local Congressmen and ask for their help to enforce the AWA.
5. Watch the documentary Lolita: Slave To Entertainment. Arrange for a screening at your local library, school, college, etc.
6. If you live in or near Miami, join the other protestors the last Saturday of each month from 12:00-2:00 outside of Seaquarium, located at 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway.