A mother from Lower Hutt in New Zealand has begun a protest in the United States to spend the next month living in a bathtub outside a Miami aquarium. Conservationist Danielle Daals, 29, was supported by a crowd of protesters on the first day of her Living Like Lolita: Bathtub Challenge, to protest against the conditions in which a killer whale called Lolita has been kept for the past 45 years.
She will sit in the tub outside Miami Seaquarium from about 10am to 7pm for 30 days, carrying a placard with a picture of Lolita and the words "Swims 100 miles per day; confined to equivalent of a bath tub".
She would like to see the 3.2-tonne whale freed and reunited with her pod of endangered southern resident orca, based near where she was captured in Puget Sound, off Seattle.
"She was about six when she was taken from the wild, and because their brain size is about five times ours it's hoped she will remember the things she learned, like how to feed," Daals said.
In response to her protest, Miami Seaquarium published a statement saying: "Lolita the killer whale is healthy and thriving in her home of 45 years, where she shares her habitat with Pacific white-sided dolphins.
There is no scientific evidence that the 49-year-old could survive if she were to be moved from her home at Miami Seaquarium to a sea pen or to the open waters of the Pacific Northwest."
During her month-long protest, Daals will be away from her 2-year-old son, and is staying with a Miami family, who had prepared her room with framed pictures of her family.
"I couldn't help but cry as reality set in that, even though I'm with them, I really felt alone, you know? Aside from missing [family] like crazy, this family is so kind and accommodating. I think during the week will be harder as people have to work so there won't be as many people if any with me outside the seaquarium."
She said she had been supported by other protesters who were trying to dissuade visitors from entering the aquarium.
"There was one police officer there, as there always is in the weekends because of the protests, and he commended me on what I was doing."
Daals has a permit to protest just beyond the water park's private land.