We have been humbled by the amount of people who have expressed their support for our cause. There have been many well-deserved questions, and constructive criticism too. We will continue to post on our blog and all social media, but we hope that this page will help with a preliminary answer to the most common questions we have gotten about us, our cause, and Toki.
What is Truth4Toki?
We oppose the current plans set forth by The Dolphin Company, Jim Irsay, and Friends of Lolita. The current plans include moving Toki and two Pacific white-sided dolphins to a sea pen in an unknown location in Puget Sound, including potential plans of full release. This plan was announced in a press conference without any application for permits and no detailed information was provided. Given the information we know so far, the current plan will be detrimental to the welfare of both Toki and the dolphins.
Who is currently involved with the plan announced by the Miami Seaquarium?
The Dolphin Company (who owns Miami Seaquarium) has agreed to let Friends of Lolita carry out steps to move Toki to a sea pen in Puget Sound. The owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, has agreed to fund the operation. Not one of the animal care specialists working directly with Toki had a say in this plan.
What's wrong with moving Toki to a sea pen?
As animal care professionals who have worked with Toki for many years, we have many reasons for opposing the plan to move Toki to the waters of Puget Sound. These include Toki's unique health challenges, age, aversion to changes in her environment, and more. Historically, such reintroductions have led to abject failure. We will be detailing these arguments on our social media, blogs, and our website.
What alternative solution is Truth4Toki advocating for?
There are better options for Toki than a move to a sea pen. It is far more realistic for her welfare to keep Toki in a controlled environment. There are 3 possible locations currently on Miami Seaquarium’s grounds that could support the option to build her a larger, better suited habitat. Another potential candidate is SeaWorld Orlando, which is the closest existing facility with sufficient space and resources to provide for Toki for the rest of her life.
How strong is the Truth4Toki movement?
We have been humbled by the outpouring of support. As of mid-April, we have more than 39k supporters on the petition, thousands of followers on social media, national news coverage, and endorsements by many industry professionals and researchers at academic institutions.
How can I get involved?
Do you have any conflicts of interest?
Our sole purpose is to advocate for Toki's welfare. As former trainers, we have no monetary ties to Miami Seaquarium. We are a group of volunteers who have the passion and the expertise to be Toki's advocates.
Is Truth4Toki Facebook page the same as this group of individuals?
The Truth4Toki team and their official opinions consist of around 35 animal care professionals. Our Facebook group is a large (1.4k) community of people who are interested in learning our knowledge of Toki and supporting her side of the story. We appreciate this community and their support.
How have you been dealing with problematic behavior?
As animal care professionals, we admit that we are not the most tech-savvy group. Therefore, at the start of our organization, we lacked (and still lack) the resources to moderate large community groups like our Facebook, as well as comments on Instagram and Twitter. As we have made clear, we do not condone any racism or hate speech against any groups. We are still learning the ropes of fast-paced social media.
What steps have you taken to ensure that the Lummi Nation views are respected?
We understand that Toki (Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut) has deep cultural significance to the Lummi Nation in the Pacific Northwest. We respect the views of the Lummi Nation and wonder if there is any way to find common ground on the subject of Toki's welfare. If they share the same goals of ensuring her best welfare, maybe we have more common ground than we realize. We are very open to starting productive dialogue on how our goals of keeping Toki safe can align with the Lummi Nation.
Why did you wait so long to advocate for Toki’s welfare?
In our careers we have often been vilified by animal rights groups. The typical industry response to animal rights rhetoric has been to stay mostly silent, and often people feel there could be repercussions for speaking out. This ranges from death threats to termination of employment as consequences for doing so. However, once we heard how detrimental this plan would be for both Toki and the Pacific white-sided dolphins, we could no longer stand by and allow these voices be the only ones heard. Truth4Toki is a group of animal care experts who have united with one voice to fight for these animals' lives. We don’t want personal recognition or to give people a feel-good moment, we want to protect these animals from a terrible fate. We are now activists and advocates for the animals that cannot speak for themselves.
What are your views on captivity?
Animals under human care are often a polarizing subject. The reality is more nuanced--even within our group, however, no matter what each individual in our group’s opinion is on the subject, we are united by our concern for Toki's welfare, and it is fine (and often productive) to have diversity of thought.