A newly released court testimony, which had been kept confidential until now, has revealed that Lolita is not just one of the world's loneliest orcas, but is also one of the sickest.
The list of Lolita's physical and psychological health problems is extensive. She suffers from frequently reoccurring infections, oral degradation and mildly impaired kidney function. On top of this, Lolita has been diagnosed with a pterygium, also called 'surfer's eye.' This is caused by excessive exposure to UV radiation, leading to discomfort and significant damage to visual function.
"Lolita appeared to be under a constant stream of medications, spanning from eye drops to antibiotics and heavy painkillers," Maddelena Bearzi, president of Ocean Conservation Society, wrote. "In 2015 alone, there was not a day during the course of the year that she wasn't under one or more medications… Killer whales in the wild do not need human-made medications and their life span is longer than that of their captive counterparts" .
Since her capture, Lolita has been kept in a 80x35x20ft tank that violates the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service standards for size requirements. APHIS is an operating unit of the US Department of Agriculture.
Additionally, Lolita’s tank does not meet the Animal Welfare Act's requirements to keep animals and unauthorised people out, nor does it provide protection from abuse and harassment by the viewing public.
Lolita, who is confined to a tank that contains crystal-clear water and little to no shade from the blistering Miami Sun, often experiences painful sunburns and blisters. Essentially, Lolita cannot escape the sunlight and her eyesight is significantly suffering because of it.
Today, Lolita is approximately 50 years old and has been held captive for over 46 years. In addition, Lolita hasn't seen another orca in 36 years.
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