Miami, Jun 1 (EFE).- About a dozen children with the Animal Hero Kids environmentalist group on Tuesday in front of the Miami Seaquarium called for it to release the orca Lolita, who was captured 50 years ago when she was younger than some of the activist kids.
Carrying signs reading “Younger than me when no longer free” and “Animal Hero Kids for Lolita’s liberation,” the children – ages 9-12 – urged the Spanish Parques Reunidos company to free the 57-year-old killer whale.
With a big inflatable orca on the scene to help publicize the event, the children, wearing green capes to represent their environmentalist organization, joined the campaign that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has headed for many years to free the oldest killer whale in captivity.
Beneath an intense sun, the demonstrators stood together along the road connecting Miami with Key Biscayne outside the Seaquarium, which has reopened its doors after being shut down for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Susan Hargreaves, the founder of Animal Hero Kids and a Florida wildlife rehabilitation worker for many years, said that there has been a “radical” change in the public’s view of the capture and confinement of wild animals.
She added that it is unacceptable to capture marine mammals, separate them from their family and keep them captive.
Other signs displayed by the children asserted that Lolita is “suffering” in her tank at the Seaquarium and called for her release into a marine sanctuary in the Salish Sea, the estuary in the Northern Pacific along the coasts of the Canadian province of British Columbia and the US state of Washington, where she was born.
On Sept. 24, 1970, Lolita was transported from the northwestern US to the Miami Seaquarium, now owned by Palace Entertainment, a firm belonging to Parques Reunidos.
PETA reiterated on Tuesday that – given that her tank is relatively small – Lolita cannot dive, swim the distances she needs to, seek refuge from the hot summer sun or establish social relationships with other members of her species.
The other orca who at one time was kept in the same tank at the Seaquarium, Hugo, died after repeatedly hitting his head against one of the tank walls in 1980, the environmentalist organization noted.