There are those of us who have advocated in favor of Lolita's retirement and those who believe she is better off staying at the Miami Seaquarium but there appears to have been no significant middle ground to speak of.
The Miami Seaquarium provided no other alternative than for Lolita to weather the dangerous, fifth-largest Atlantic cyclone on record in her exposed, tiny tank under the extended threat of injury or death.
"She should have been moved, no questions asked," former SeaWorld trainer Dr. Jeffrey Ventre said, "It was criminal animal negligence or animal cruelty."
He said, "They could have put her on a stretcher, moved her to a truck, and then taken her to SeaWorld; It's a bunker compared to the Miami Seaquarium."
Dr. Ventre concluded, "Lolita staying in Virginia Key was the worst possible choice for her well-being during Irma."
Some have suggested that if she were ever moved to an alternate location like SeaWorld, Lolita would end up being stuck there instead.
However, allow me to play the role of Devil's Advocate for a moment and speculate how her health and welfare could be less threatened by an interim relocation to a facility like SeaWorld.
Compared to her tank at the Miami Seaquarium, Lolita should have: 1. More room in which to move around, 2. Freedom from being raked or otherwise harassed by dolphins, 3. Shade from the Florida sun 4. Freedom from polluted Biscayne Bay water and 5. Potential orca companionship which she has not experienced in nearly four decades.
Facilities like those of SeaWorld appear to be more modern, less rundown and could provide safer refuge from deadly storms compared to those at the aging Miami Seaquarium.
If she were held there instead, SeaWorld would likely make the same hollow arguments that the Miami Seaquarium makes regarding the risk to her health posed by any relocation to a seapen.
However, those of us who have advocated for a proper, healthy retirement in the hurricane-free Salish Sea home waters in which her family still lives will continue so long as Lolita is held captive.
But until she can be returned to home waters, she should at least be housed in a safer, more accommodating facility than the antiquated Miami Seaquarium.
The new hurricane season is nearly upon us and the Miami Seaquarium has made it clear they will neither invest in any improvements to her substandard tank nor provide a contingency plan to ensure her safety from impending natural hazards.
Harsh criticism directed at the Miami Seaquarium has even been leveled by SeaWorld patrons and supporters who are not opposed to cetacean captivity.
There is a middle ground on which we can stand together and mutually care for Lolita's well being though we may disagree on what's best for her future after the next monster storm. Let's ensure she can survive any impending storm first and foremost.