I am crying. Out of happiness and the hope, eternal hope, that the right thing will be done. One company has the key to making history right, to correct for a horrible genocide on Orca Whales. The Dolphin Company recently bought Miami Aquarium and agreed to the US government to retire her from “performing”.
For my adulthood I have had hope that Tokitae (Lolita) would be freed from her slavery. In 1970 she was one of the babies that whale sellers took from Penn Cove, on Whidbey Island. (That link can be very upsetting to find out how bad whale hunting for profit was then, how horrifying it was and the carnage.) She was born in 1966, and has been forced into entertainment slavery since September 24th, 1970 in the Miami Aquarium. She is 56 years old. Orcas can live to be 100 years old in the wild. She is in her middle age. She deserves her freedom, unshackled from the slavery she was sold into. She deserves dignity.
This was her life. For all those years. Living in a tiny swimming pool, forced to entertain humans. She weighs around 7,000 pounds! She has been alone for decades.
She is now the only one of the stolen babies to be alive, their lives in captivity causing a number of them to commit suicide. Yes, Orcas will hit themselves till they die. The desperation, the bleakness they lived in.
This is where Orcas (who are actually in the Dolphin family) and all whales deserve to live – free. Living their lives as God intended. Not in a swimming pool. (And yes, those are Humpbacks, the Orcas swam by a bit later when it was too dark…hah) I was 13 the year I saw my first Orca. One of the pods was swimming alongside the Wa State ferry we were on, in the San Juan Islands. The black and white shimmering in the cold water, leaping in happiness – because they could. Whale and Orca sightings are celebrated on Whidbey Island – there is a bell to ring in Langley when one is sighted and the call goes out on social media of where they are headed (this last weekend it was off the charts with whales popping up everywhere). Seeing them in the wild is the goal now. Not going to a horrible aquarium filled with animals held in captivity.
There is time still. There is a plan. The Lummi Nation has a plan, for her to live her life in the cold deep waters of the Salish Sea I live by. She would live protected, with them her caregiver. She would be able to call out to her remaining family – they will recognize her. They will call back. She deserves to feel the water, the love, to extinguish the nightmare she lives in now. She has lived that life for longer than I have been alive.
In 2015 when the Lummi Nation traveled to Miami to pray for her release they were met with this piece of colonialism crap:
“Seaquarium Curator Emeritus Robert Rose responded to the Lummi’s journey, saying that the Lummi Nation “should be ashamed of themselves, they don’t care about Lolita, they don’t care about her best interests, they don’t really care whether she lives or dies. To them, she is nothing more than a vehicle by which they promote their name, their political agenda, to obtain money and to gain media attention. Shame on them.”
Because living in a swimming pool must be so great……that even the Federal government declared “In 2017, a USDA audit found that Lolita’s tank does not meet the legal size requirements per federal law.”
~ With love, tears and anguish…..may The Dolphin Company do the right thing. Let them give her dignity, and freedom, back. Let her live her life in the Salish Sea. She will never be truly free, but she will be home.