It's pretty darn clear orca whales shouldn't be kept alone in small enclosures. We've all seen Blackfish by now. Yet Miami Seaquarium's Lolita remains the sole killer whale at the oceanarium despite years of protests that aim to free her from a relatively tiny tank.
Because PETA is PETA, and pretty much everything it does involves naked people in some form, the group dispatched a pair of nude protesters to Miami International Airport's baggage claim carousels today. The protesters were slathered in black and white body paint, topped with black wigs, and holding signs demanding the Seaquarium free Miami's most famous cetacean.
Like a great number of things in Miami, Lolita is not native to South Florida and ostensibly does not belong in this climate: She's originally from Puget Sound. But for the past 40 years, Lolita has lived in an uncovered, 60-by-80-foot tank at the Seaquarium, which activists have compared to "a human living in a Port-a-Potty." Her last companion, a male named Hugo, died in 1980 after repeatedly ramming his head into the side of the concrete enclosure. Activists claim Hugo purposely killed himself.
Today's protest was aimed at Miami's gigantic contingent of tourists, who make up a huge portion of the Seaquarium's business each year.
"Our protesters drew visitors' attention to the suffering that animals endure at the Miami Seaquarium, where a lonely orca swims endless circles in a tiny concrete tank," PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman said in a statement. "PETA is calling on visitors to Miami and the Seaquarium to join us in demanding Lolita's release to a coastal sanctuary."
"Miami Seaquarium, free Lolita!" the protesters chanted. They were then dragged off the carousels in handcuffs.
But Lolita's chances aren't really looking great: In June, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that could have freed the whale and sent her to live in a much whale-friendlier sanctuary.
"Miami Seaquarium has lovingly cared for Lolita for over 45 years and will continue to give her world-class care and attention at her home here in Miami," the Seaquarium told New Times Broward-Palm Beach after the suit was dismissed. "Lolita will continue to be an ambassador for her species at Miami Seaquarium."
Matt Bruce, a campaign specialist with PETA, said via phone the two protesters are now sitting in jail.
"They were willing to put themselves in captivity" to make a point about Lolita's imprisonment, he said. "We hope to have them out by the end of the day."
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