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Miami Seaquarium If You Could Design a New Exhibit for Lolita

Discussion in 'United States' started by wensleydale, 18 Aug 2014.

  1. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    In the spirit of Killer Whale exhibits being redone in grand fashion, what would you do if you were redesigning Lolita/Tokitae's current home? Aside from the obvious size factor, what else would you add to it? For example would you jut build an annex to her current home or would you do a total teardown? Would you design it so that it could ultimately be re purposed for another species (Pacific White Sided Dolphins, most likely) or would it be something that would be intended to hold Killer Whales long after Lolita has bitten the dust (though I think that any of the current Killer Whale Habitats could accommodate another species with no modifications whatsoever). Would you add add an underwater viewing area? Any changes to the seating? How deep? You tell me.
     
  2. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    I`d do nothing but moving her to a place where she can be with other orcas. I consider a new killer whale facility a waste of money. And I`d seriously look into releasing Lolita into a seapen in the area where she had been captured. If I remember right members of her family are still alive there.
     
  3. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    If I were to design her a new tank, first thing I'd do, I'd make it nice and deep, so she could actually dive. Add some jets that can create currents and waves, so she could get more exercise as she swims around, maybe get to play in the waves. After she gets used to the new conditions, maybe add some underwater plants and possibly small fish and crustaceans, to test out if a more natural environment would be more stimulating. It would be able to hold other animals after she dies, since orcas are pretty difficult to obtain. (unless they were able to make a deal with SeaWorld, I guess)
     
  4. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Toki still has living family in the Pacific Northwest, but I'm not sure how many. Putting her in a sea pen is still captivity and she doesn't have the immune system to protect her from the bad stuff in Puget Sound and the other waters the L Pod visit.

    As for the OP's question, I agree with Yassa in that she should be moved to one of the SW parks so she could be around other orca. If that's not possible, she should get a bigger pool with an 'off-display- area in back where she can go between shows. She should also get a nice shade cover for her pool. Changes to the seating? Why? It's not about making the public more comfortable, it's about improving conditions for Tokitae.
     
  5. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    Maybe the seating could be modified so that the public is further away from her, right now it seems that they can get really close, maybe even touch her (she seems to not have a problem getting close to the public sometime, and in this day and age...)? Also, changing the way that the public is able to view her, either to give her more space or making the place more handicapped accessible (making it so as many people as possible can come is a big deal to me, this is to me about making things better for her and, secondarily making her exhibit a more accessible and educational experience).
     
  6. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Lolita was like, 7 when she was captured. Weaned, and they get most of their immunities from their mother's milk, and the waters are cleaner now than they were when she was captured, so I don't think that would be an issue. Personally I'd be a bit concerned about physical fitness. Keiko lived in similar conditions for a long time and as a result, he couldn't dive well and couldn't even hold his breath for a normal amount of time. So he had a rehabilitation tank. If Lolita were to be taken to a sea pen, there's a chance she might need something similar. If she were taken directly to a sea pen, would she have the physical fitness to handle rough weather? If she's a good candidate for it, it would be cool if she did get retired to a sea pen in her home waters. It's still captivity, but it would offer a larger space, and the ever-changing environment of the ocean would be more stimulating. Plus, she could go on swims in the open ocean. And such a situation could offer the chance for us to learn new things about orcas. Though, that's only if she's determined a good candidate for it. Wouldn't want to compromise her health.

    Totally agree on giving her more shade cover. I don't know how she's been able to deal with the sun all these years. Getting her some orca companions would be nice, but I don't know if SW would ever go for it. She hasn't seen another orca in like, 30 years, and they might not be confident that she'd act well. I also can't imagine that any park would pay much to get her. She's well past the average age for a captive orca, so statistically, she might not be around much longer. But it would be cool if she could go someplace with other orcas.
     
  7. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    There is more to immunity than whether or not one has received their mothers milk. Pathogens change (quite quickly in some cases, different flu shots every year, MRSA), new pathogens arrive, immune systems can "forget" how to deal with pathogens (hence vaccine booster shots), and as one gets older their immune system gets weaker. I wish it was as simple as getting your mothers milk.

    My understanding is that once you are a few inches underwater the amount of uv rays diminishes, probably she has been dealing with it by spending time underwater. Either that or she is freakishly hardy (or both).

    I ought to have mentioned this when I started the thread, I meant assuming (for the sake of argument) that it has been determined that she must stay at the Seaquarium for her own health and safety. I thought that I had implied it, please don't get mad at me:eek:.
     
  8. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I've heard that she spends quite a bit of time underwater instead of logging at the surface. Though I bet she is a pretty hardy whale. Despite poor living conditions, she's one of the oldest orcas in captivity.

    I'm not mad, I totally get the point of your thread. While it would be cool if she could be retired, I rather doubt it will happen, and I would be happy to at least see her get better living conditions. (I really only started talking about the matter cause someone else brought it up)

    Staying on the topic, if I were to redesign her tank, depth would be an important factor. It would be for any cetacean, really. Going that route, maybe add an underwater viewing panel. Doing this level of redesign, might as well. If the tank gets used for other, smaller cetaceans later, the deep tank could benefit them as well. These animals live in three dimensions, so depth is as important as width and length.
     
  9. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    It will never happpen because there is too much money involved. Neither the Miami Seaquarium nor Sea World nor any other park that keeps orcas will ever let one of their animals go. For most captive orcas, release is probably not a good option anyway because it is not possible to find their clan/family, and those born in captivity don`t even have one. You just need to look at what happened to Keiko to see how well an ex-captive orca does on his own.

    However, with Lolita, her case is different and she really might have a chance to have a much better life. I think the potential benefit is well worth the risk of her getting an infection, especially since no one would just throw her into the ocean and let her fight on her own. Of course she`d need lots of training and medical care.
     
  10. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    She does have some major advantages over other orcas, but I'd be concerned because of how much time she's spent in captivity. She's about the average lifespan of a wild orca, and for a captive orca she's pretty old. If she's determined a good candidate, (you know, good health and immunities and all) I would like to see her at least retired in a sea pen, because I seriously doubt that she's ever going to be given a better tank. (as mentioned, she's very old for a captive orca and from a business standpoint, it makes no sense to spend millions of dollars on a whale that could easily be dead in a year, and they likely wouldn't be able to obtain more whales after that anyway) Like you, I do think it could be worth the risk (if the evaluation says so) but many people would not agree.
     
  11. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    Like I said, something that could be modified after Lolita's tenure at the Seaquarium is no more. Or does not need to be modified at all. A new tank for her could be turned into a totally different attraction after her. Does anyone have any ideas for what any new exhibit could be turned into afterwards?

    I'm still thinking of what I would do for a new exhibit. I would definitely increase the size of the pool, at least several times. I would double the depth in at least part of the pool (preferably more). I would make it Pacific White Sided Dolphin friendly, however that might be done. It would be able to accommodate another another Killer Whale or three, but there would be multiple, separate pools where they could be kept apart if need be. Maybe (and this is a faint possibility, I'm not holding my breath) it might be a place where a whale (or two) could semi retire ( I understand the schedule is lighter there), for the benefit of offering her a possible companion. SeaWorld does lease some whales to Loro Parque, maybe they might be willing to do the same for Miami Seaquarium. Even if only as a PR move.

    If Lolita had to be moved to another facility I would send her to Orlando just because the travel time would be shortest.
     
    Last edited: 22 Aug 2014
  12. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    An orca tank could probably hold other cetaceans with little to no modification.

    Sending her to another park would be unlikely, but as you say, if they built a new tank, it wouldn't be too out of the range for SW to lease an orca. Possibly one of their older animals, or an animal that has some difficulty with their current living conditions. I believe they already do business with MSQ, I think a Pacific white-sided dolphin or two are being leased there. And like you say, it would be a pretty great PR move.

    For orcas in general, not just Lolita, I'd want to see some environment designs that they could interact with. That way, they won't be too bored when there aren't trainers around. What kinds of stuff do you think could be done?
     
  13. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    After her passing, I think she's earned a nice statue and plaque near her current (or any future) exhibit.

    I'd just try to design a large environment, probably Arctic-inspired, with a focus on the natural behaviors and habitat of Orcas and other arctic ceteceans. If we must require a show, the show would be themed around how ceteceans are apex predators in the natural habitat, but also the gentleness they display within the pod and when caring for each other. Panels around the tanks would educate visitors about the history of orcas and ceteceans in captivity and contrast their behaviors in the wild and human affects on the environment, both due to hunting, captivity and other factors. In the event of Lolita's passing, I think a large, spacious Arctic-themed habitat could be great for a small family of Belugas :)
     
  14. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I wish more captive orca got something to memorialize them. At the very least, plaques/statues for the significant ones, like Moby Doll or the original Shamu.

    A themed exhibit would be pretty cool, though since Lolita is a southern resident, I'd style it more on that environment myself. Though arctic would still be pretty cool, and like you say, would be great for some belugas.
     
  15. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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  16. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Shame the plan never went through. I'm wondering if it's because they weren't able to obtain a male whale. From a business standpoint, there's no sense in making a new whale tank for a single animal that could easily be dead in a year (by captive orca standards, she's very old) if they aren't going to get more whales. (even if they wanted to get more whales, they aren't easy to obtain) The only hope of her getting a new tank at this point (without bringing in more whales) would be if, like you suggest, they plan on using it for another species after she bites the dust.
     
  17. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    At one point they did try to get a male whale. They actually tried to acquire Keiko after he turned up in Norway! However the Norwegian government thought it would be a step back. I'll try to find the article where I found this out
     
  18. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I heard about that too. I can't help but wonder whether getting him would've been good or bad for business. Sure, he's a celebrity whale, but he represents freedom to his fans. :p

    Have they ever attempted to work with SeaWorld to get a whale at least on a breeding loan? Or did they ever attempt to artificially inseminate Lolita? I think SeaWorld has some dolphins on loan to them so it wouldn't be TOO far out of the question.
     
  19. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    Back in 2007 there was an internet rumor that she was pregnant. Obviously it either didn't pan out, or (my guess) never happened in the first place.

    I've always thought that Tillikum could retire with Lolita. If a new pool were to be built they could construct it so that protected contact could be used there. Given the fact that they have multiple options for breeding bulls now it might be time to give it a rest with him. Also, he has a reputation for being lazy and taking the second show of the day off, maybe their schedule would suit him better...or bring out the motivation in him. Trua could come too, and maybe another female (I don't know who that would be though).

    then again MSQ might not be interested in taking on an animal with his history. I don't know what the PR would be like.
     
  20. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Lolita is almost 50, and they usually lose the ability to produce offspring at about 40. So yeah, doubt it ever happened.

    I rather doubt SW would ever breed Tilikum again anyway. (they haven't done so in years) They kind of overdid it and too many whales share his genes. And yeah, a place as controversial as MSQ doesn't need the bad PR they'd get from taking Tilikum.

    A "retirement" program for older whales would be interesting. If the captive whale lifespan increases and the whales get bred frequently, I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually happened. In addition to good PR, it would allow them to use park space for younger, breeding whales, so it works from a business perspective as well.