Animal Legal Defense Fund Complaint Results in OSHA Fine for Miami Seaquarium

Posted on July 23, 2014

Seaquarium Will Pay $7000 for Endangering Trainers in the Water with Captive Orca Lolita

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

lolita-CC-LEONARDO-DASILVA-article-image-230pxMIAMI — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited and fined the Miami Seaquarium for putting trainers in the water with an orca named Lolita, thereby violating worker safety laws. The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a formal complaint about this issue to OSHA on December 11, 2013. In a recent investigation, OSHA found trainers working with Lolita were exposed to various lethal hazards. The agency has required Seaquarium to remove its trainers from engaging in “wet work and dry work performances” in the pool. Because of the serious nature of the violation OSHA is fining the Miami Seaquarium $7,000.

In April 2014, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld OSHA’s enforcement of worker safety laws against SeaWorld for trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death at that marine theme park. Earlier enforcement may have prevented the death of the SeaWorld trainer. In 2010, Dawn was killed in front of a crowd of spectators when a 12,000 pound orca named Tilikum dragged her under water—as discussed in the popular documentary Blackfish. Suspecting the Miami Seaquarium was committing the same offenses as SeaWorld, ALDF sent an investigator to the Seaquarium in May, where trainers were found performing in the water with Lolita. As a result, ALDF renewed its complaint to OSHA, attaching video footage captured by ALDF’s investigator, and OSHA completed its own inspection of the park on July 10, 2014.

“We celebrate OSHA’s swift enforcement against this dangerous facility,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Miami Seaquarium is risking trainers’ lives to exploit Lolita, a wild-captured orca, for huge revenue. The corporation continues to disregard worker safety and animal welfare laws as long as it brings in big profits.”

Copies of ALDF’s letter to OSHA are available upon request.

22 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Complaint Results in OSHA Fine for Miami Seaquarium

  1. Demetra Conklin says:

    Yaay! Does this mean they can no longer ride her like a surfboard? Hoping and praying that Lolita can return to her home in Puget Sound waters. Thank you for helping Lolita. So many hearts are with her.

    1. I really hope that aldf can free lolita and that she will be returned to the ocean where she can be reunited with her family. I do agree that orca whales, dolphins, sea lions and all animals should not be performing at the seaworld in orlando, san Diego, san Antonio and any othe SeaWorld park at all. These animals should be allowed to roam free in the oceans anot afraid of being put into captivity to perform at these parks.

  2. Deborah Watkins says:

    Ban all wild animals for entertainment. Stop the horrendous breed to replace programs currently used by Marine Parks and Zoos. It is 2014 not 1930. We do not need live animal acts. It is obsolete and barbaric. Bad for children to learn it is ok to treat living beings as slaves. We are all earthlings sharing one planet.

    1. Dr. Lori Ugolik says:

      Well said!!

  3. Gina Powell says:

    Congrats to the ALDF team for pursuing this. The continued capture (Taiji Japan), and confinement of large intelligent marine mammals like Lolita is unacceptable. They live a life of misery for your entertainment. Stop supporting this disgrace. These orcas belong in the ocean with their families. We have no right to imprison them for profit. Send a clear message to these marine jails – Don’t buy a ticket. Sign petitions. Write letters. Be active and be a voice for these prisoners of profit.

    1. Belinda says:

      Excellent work, ALDF! Kudos to OSHA! This ruling confirms that $EAWORLD is not alone in the exploiting of captive cetaceans and exposing trainers to serious risk in dangerous working conditions. The Miami $eaquarium also has a long history of Code violations and has shown a blatant disregard for the safety of both its employees and public.
      The days of rampant exploitation of whales and workers alike in marine parks are quickly coming to an close; gov’t regulatory agencies in the 21st Century are showing that there is zero tolerance for abusement parks that endanger or enslave ALL sentient beings for the sake of profits.
      Let this ruling sound the death knell for the Miami Seaquarium’s disgraceful, decades-long abuse of this beautiful being,Lolita,so brutally ripped from her pod so long ago. Take note, MSQ: there is no price on the safety or security of living beings under your jurisdiction, and your cruel and callous disregard for the quality of ALL those currently in your ‘care’ cannot and will not be permitted to continue.

  4. Milla says:

    Free Lolita!

  5. Gina says:

    Glad to hear it, but it’s still not enough. Lolita is not a toy and she has been locked up long enough. She needs to get back to her native waters in Washington, even if it’s just to live out the rest of her life in a sea pen, free from shows and being exploited for greed!

  6. Julie says:

    Not having to do those ridiculous trainer rides will mean so much to Lolita’s every day life. I hope ALDF will be working on behalf of Lolita until she is back in the Salish Sea.
    Thank you so much for the work youdo for all animals.

  7. salma arabi says:

    how long can these animals last in those small pools. Animals should not be used for our entertainement. We wouldn’t like to be used that way so why do it to others. They are wild animals born to be free and not to do silly tricks. No wonder some end up rebelling and do what has been done to one of the entertainers.

  8. salma arabi says:

    how can anyone expect wild animals to live happily in such small pools when they living space is the entire ocean? No wonder accidents happen.One cannot expect to keep on making them do such silly tricks and not expect any rebellion in the end. These animals belong to nature. Would you like to be trapped in this way and in used by making silly tricks?No so why expect it from others

  9. Kyle says:

    How stupid. Keeping trainers away from her is not going to improve her life in anyway. She had constant stimulation from the trainers whoops love her. Taking that physical connection away is not helping anything. She has been in Miami for so long now. Returning her to the ocean especially at her age is not an answer to anything.

    Hopefully Miami appeals this crazy citation by OSHA. And they can continue to care for her in the way they have been

    1. Anne says:

      Do you have any idea of the dimensions of the pool that she is kept in? They are far below what a killer whale should be kept in. What they provide is NOT care. It is abusive and they use this killer whale for profit. It is despicable. People are becoming educated and realizing that this is wrong. They need to use the money that they have made off of her over the years to rehab and release her. Please watch this video about Lolita. Maybe you feel differently about her capture and the conditions in which she is being kept. This is coming from a marine biologist.

      1. Frances says:

        I shared the excellent educational and insightful video on facebook. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Anne says:

    The story of Lolita is so heartbreaking. What a pathetic establishment for keeping this killer whale in the conditions that they are. She needs to be returned to her family. It is amazing me to that in the year 2014 that this is still allowed. Shame on Miami Seaquarium. Spend some of that money that you have made off of her on her rehab and release. Do the right thing.

  11. Sharyn E. Zaslofsky says:

    Great job ALDF!! We need more of these animal entertainment venues to not just be fined, but to be abolished. Humans have no right to capture and rob the freedom from other species, and, worse, to profit by using them for entertainment! The inhumanity and cruelty can not just be accepted as the “status quo.” People need to re-evaluate, and, truly consider just how heinous this treatment of these, as well as, other species really is. Greed is not, and, never will be, an acceptable justification for abuse. We must recognize that we have no right to capture, and, horribly abuse other species in the name of entertainment or education. We must learn to co-exist with other creatures on this planet.

  12. Peggy Oki says:

    Thank you ALDF for your great work!!
    `*○☆EVERYONE: Please send a message to the NEW OWNERS of the MSQ for Lolita’s FREEDOM & “Share” ~thanks!

    • “Lolita Slave to Entertainment” documentary (58:20 min.)

    •Recent (8:25 min.) video of Dr. Ingrid Natasha Visser’s visit to see Lolita

    +++Let’s continue to urge people to watch, and make a difference!
    WATCH #BlackfishtheMovie available on #Netflix

  13. Bianca says:

    Lolita deserves to be in a sanctuary where she can enjoy the rest of her days. The tiny tank at Miami is an absolute disgrace…. ALL IN THE NAME OF PROFIT !!!!

  14. April Cruz says:

    Kyle you’re an idiot…keeping a 12000 lb middle aged top predator in a tank so small that you could equate the animal/tank space ratio to that of a fish in a fish bowl……..IS INSANE. Standing on an orcas face or surfing them or riding them….HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GOOD CARE. Orca don’t need humans. She never should have been stolen from the sea. Period.

  15. Verna Brunet says:

    A return to the ocean would be a challenge for her but an intelligent species can handle a reasonable challenge if they’re healthy & not drugged.
    Whales get old in the ocean all the time.
    The difficulties she’ll endure on her return to the ocean are nothing compared to her endless nightmare of imprisonment & hateful drugging.
    In the wild no whales are forced to consume mind destroying drugs.

  16. Sadie States says:

    Free Lolita. It is cruel and I humane what you make these poor creatures to endure for your greed and people’s entertainment.

  17. Rudolf Mühl says:

    animals are not toys!!!

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