Miami Seaquarium is in hot water for abandoning its animals during Hurricane Irma, specifically a female Orca whale.
A tweet, which has since gone viral, shows a birds-eye-view picture of Lolita – a female Orca – seemingly left abandoned inside her tank.
It’s been retweeted 25,000 times and has caused outrage on Twitter by those who feel the organisation should have done more to protect its animals who have been kept in captivity.
— Anna MacLaughlin (@AnnaGraceMac) September 9, 2017
According to the Observer, the aquarium is said to be particularly vulnerable, given its location on Virginia Key – a barrier island off the coast of Miami.
Lolita can be seen surrounded by a flimsy tin roof from the stadium surrounding her tank, along with several dolphins – all of which were left uncovered.
Anna MacLaughlin, an environmental conservationist, posted the picture, captioned:
Bad enough that captive orca exist, but unlike other animals they can’t be evacuated during #Irma. Barbaric that Lolita has been abandoned.
— Dolphin Project (@Dolphin_Project) September 11, 2017
It’s a stark contrast to the dolphins at an aquarium in Cuba, who were airlifted to safety by helicopter out of Hurricane Irma’s path before it made landfall.
Reports from Miami show the downtown area as being submerged by flooding, yet besides closing the park, the Miami Seaquarium provided no updates on their social media outlets during the storm.
A former SeaWorld trainer who advocates against Orca captivity, Jeffrey Ventre told the Observer:
The shallow water columns of captivity force the animals to be exposed.
— AmericanAngel (@JennPotter22) September 10, 2017
The threats to exposed captive killer whales include missile injuries, blunt force trauma, stress, and foreign objects in the pool, which can be swallowed.
In nature the whales can ride out storms, spending their time predominantly below the surface and at greater depths
MacLaughlin also tweeted:
In the wild cetaceans (whales and dolphins) will generally dive to deeper waters to avoid the worst of a storm.
Last night Miami Seaquarium tweeted to say their animals and team were safe, but no further updates have been given.
In 2013, the documentary Blackfish exposed the harmful effects captivity has on orcas – animals who regularly travel over 60 miles per day in the wild.
SeaWorld is currently under federal investigation for defrauding investors by misrepresenting their business downturn since the documentary’s release.
— Miami Seaquarium (@MiamiSeaquarium) September 11, 2017
Regardless, animals aren’t here for our entertainment.