UK Firm Behind Lonely Lolita’s Captivity
Following the recent demo at Arle Capital, Sunday Times environment editor Jonathan Leake covers Lolita’s story.
There are just six weeks to go until the trial to decide against the Miami Sequarium’s violations against the Endangered Species Act.
The whale, named Lolita, lives at Miami Seaquarium in Florida, which is owned by Arle Capital, an investment firm based just off Pall Mall in central London.
Lolita is thought to be the oldest living killer whale in captivity after being caught in Puget Sound, off America’s northwest coast, in 1970. She lives in a tank estimated to be less than 50ft wide and 20ft deep where she puts on daily shows and performs tricks for visitors. But next month she will have a starring role in a legal action by animal rights groups that want her released into a marine refuge.
“We assert that the conditions of Lolita’s captivity violates America’s Endangered Species Act prohibiting harm or harassment of an endangered animal,” said Howard Garrett, of Orca Network, the US-based organisation that is leading the legal action.
Killer whales are highly sociable in the wild where they live in tight-knit pods that often swim more than 50 miles a day.
Lolita’s captivity could be embarrassing for Arle Capital. John Arney, its managing partner, and his colleagues, who control an estimated £2bn of assets, have already found animal rights campaigners demonstrating outside their offices. Arle took ownership of Lolita when it bought Parques Reunidos, a Spanish entertainment company that owns Palace Entertainment, the firm behind Seaquarium, where, according to its website, “conservation and education go hand in hand”. The Florida attraction, which is estimated to make annual profits of around £750,000, is best known as the home of Flipper, the dolphin that starred in the popular US children’s TV series in the mid-1960s.
Margaux Dodds, director of Marine Connection, the charity leading the UK action against Arle, claimed: “Arle are directly profiting from Lolita’s captive state.”
Julie Foster, a spokeswoman for Arle, said the company had employed vets to ensure Lolita was healthy and her pool complied with all legal requirements. She said that releasing her into the sea could kill her. “It would be a reckless and cruel experiment which would put her through a traumatic transport process and jeopardise her life,” she said. “Each year more than 85,000 schoolchildren and 600,000 other guests visit Miami Seaquarium to see and learn about Lolita.“We believe that this remarkable, educational experience creates awareness and appreciation for orcas and marine life in general.”
I wonder why Arle Capital’s website is down? Is it because they’re ashamed of their treatment of Lolita the orca at their Miami Seaquarium?
— Caroline BurgessPike (@CazCAB) April 2, 2016