The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals today released footage of dolphins with serious injuries caused by unnatural and abominable activities they’re forced to perform.In light of this evidence, Peta has also filed a complaint with the USDA to force them to investigate what Peta calls “blatant violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.” Concerns were raised when Dr. Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist,sounded the alarm upon seeing dolphins with open sores and healed scars on their bodies caused by human-induced activities such as acting as live water skis for trainers who stand on their bodies as they swim. The footage also shows disturbing images of the dolphins deliberately banging their heads against a grate. This self-destructive behavior is seen by marine biologists as evidence of psychological damage due to being forced to live in an unnatural environment. The Miami Seaquarium is usually on activists’ radar for news of Lolita, the Orca whose plight is well known to South Florida and West Palm Beach activists. However, with the news today of evidence of intentional cruelty and harm, activists will have to watch the USDA closely to monitor their reaction to today’s filing of a complaint.
Readers are also closely watching a lawsuit filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Peta and Orca Network intended to force the Miami Seaquarium to release Lolita. In late January, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommended that Lolita should be protected against captivity by the same laws that protect the rest of her species in Puget Sound. However, experts are at loggerheads over whether the release of Lolita would violate the Endangered Species Act because the release of a whale who has been in captivity for forty years “has the potential to injure or kill not only the particular animal, but also the wild populations of that same species,” according to Lynne Barre, Branch Chief for protected resources at the National Marine Fisheries Service. However, she is not averse to listening to the public and weighing the information given her by a number of experts in a variety of fields before fully committing to a stance on the matter.
This fight to free Lolita has been a long 44 years in the making. In the last decade, however, a new generation of activists along with the ability to communicate with marine biologists and veterinarians around the corner and around the whole world, brought new life into this controversy.
So we wait to learn of any activity in Lolita’s case. While those on the side of freedom for Lolita may become disheartened and frustrated over the few and random wins for their side, there is one decision in their favor: ‘Dade county has retreated and dropped a requirement for a “red zone” where protesters, many of whom show up on a weekly basis, had to avoid. In the name of “safety,” protesters had to stay at least 15 feet from Seaquariam’s entrance and 25 feet from the exit. But as soon as the ACLU made an appearance, all activity stopped and protesters may now utilize the entire sidewalk, making their efforts more effective since they may once again speak to drivers headed into the Seaquarium for a day of “education about marine mammals” with the kids in the hopes of dissuading them from visiting.