As a Florida resident, I am disturbed by the appointment of Andrew Hertz as the chair of Visit Florida, our state-funded tourism marketing agency. Hertz is the president and general manager of the Miami Seaquarium, which holds the distinct dishonor of keeping an orca in the smallest orca tank in North America, a tank so tiny that it is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act.
Seaquarium’s lone orca, Lolita, was cruelly captured from her family pod as a baby. The heartbreaking footage was shown in the documentary Blackfish. She had been held captive and forced to perform confusing tricks for food for more than 40 years. And since Lolita's tankmate died 34 years ago, after ramming his head into the side of the tank, she has had no opportunity to interact with members of her own species. That is excruciating for this social, intelligent animal.
I am deeply concerned that Hertz’s vested interest in promoting cruel marine mammal captivity will affect his decisions at Visit Florida.
There is so much to love about Florida, and so many ways to see our majestic wildlife in their natural habitats. I enjoy sharing our state’s beauty and fun attractions with visitors and I’ve happily shared many posts using Visit Florida’s slogan, #LoveFL. But I don’t love cruelty to animals and I won’t support any organization that does.