The issue of marine animal captivity is one that never fails to inspire great passion in animal lovers around the world. From the amazing kids who campaign against it, to Steve-O’s recent stunt of climbing a crane in Hollywood, Cal., it seems that the very idea of the cramped, frustrating conditions that captive orcas, dolphins, and other marine animals must endure inspires countless numbers of people to speak out and take action, no matter what.
And now, a twenty-nine-year-old woman named Danielle Daals has taken her activism to new heights by vowing that she will stay outside the Miami Seaquarium in a bathtub for one month.
She wants to raise awareness of the plight of Lolita, a female orca who has lived at the Seaquarium for almost 35 out of her 45 years in captivity. Captured from the wild and cruelly separated from her family – the L-Pod of the Southern Resident Killer Whales population – she has been forced to live in the smallest orca tank in the country. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has described it as “smaller than even the minimum standard required by federal law.”
Legal attempts to free Lolita from her situation and have her retired to a sizeable sea pen have so far been unsuccessful. However, Howard Garrett of the Orca Network has said, “it’s hardly the end of the road for our legal efforts for Lolita,” explaining that further cases are planned, which will seek to argue that Miami Seaquarium’s multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) mean that Lolita should no longer be housed with them.
Danielle Daals said of her planned protest: “Living in a bathtub is the best analogy for (Lolita’s) situation. (In the wild,) orcas swim so many miles a day that their tanks are the equivalent to a bath tub! No one has lived in a bathtub to support her freedom, which is why I’m hoping this will gain so much attention.”
She intends to carry out her unusual form of protest next summer, adding that “This is a peaceful protest and I will be fully clothed in the bathtub with no water. There should be no safety concerns for anyone, including myself.” The Miami-Dade Police Department will only step in to prevent her action if it poses a safety threat to Daals herself, or to passing traffic.
Geragi Jeff, cofounder of Miami’s Animal Activists Network, has praised Daals’ decision, saying, “If this could be pulled off, I think it could bring a tremendous amount of awareness to Lolita’s plight over these past 45 years and put pressure on Miami Seaquarium to finally retire her.”
Jared Goodman, director of animal law at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was also supportive of Daals’ plan. “A month may be an unthinkable stretch of time to spend confined to a bathtub, but the orca Lolita has been confined to the smallest orca tank in North America for more than four decades,” he commented.
So, will Daals’ protest help discourage members of the public from attending Miami Seaquarium, or even push the marine park into letting Lolita go at long last? It remains to be seen. We wish her the best of luck.
Lead image source: PublicBroadcasting.net