She is Miami Seaquarium’s biggest attraction, and has performed for over forty years in America’s smallest orca tank.
Originally named Tokitae, she was captured in August 1970 during the infamous Penn Cove round ups. It was during this time that the Southern Resident orcas were decimated. Many orcas drowned during this ordeal, and many more were taken from the vulnerable population to stock captive tanks. Marine parks such as SeaWorld hired men to capture these orcas using any methods necessary.
Explosives and guns were used to corral the animals into a small inlet. Lolita and 7 other orcas were captured and sold to marine parks around the world.
Today, she is the only survivor.
After being sold to Miami Seaquarium, she was renamed Lolita, and she was housed alone until 1972 when she was joined by a male named Hugo.
The two performed for nearly ten years when, possibly out of frustration, Hugo began injuring himself deliberately on the tank walls. He would constantly bash his head, at one point severing his rostrum so badly that it had to be sewn back together.
In 1980, Hugo died from a brain aneurysm due to blunt force.
Since then, Lolita has been without same-species companionship for 43 years.
What’s the plan?
A dedicated movement has been growing over the years to retire Lolita to her home waters off the coast of Washington State. You can read all about that plan here.
Lolita would be flown to Kanaka Bay, where her seapen is already waiting. Her rehabilitation would be slow and steady - at Lolita’s pace. The location is ideal - a secluded inlet away from boat traffic and people so she would not be harassed.
One key aspect of this plan is that Lolita’s family is still alive. She was captured from the Southern Residents - one of the most studied group of orcas in the entire world. Her family is well-documented, and her mother, Ocean Sun, is still alive.
If her rehabilitation does not go according to plan, the contingency plan kicks in. Lolita would be cared for in her seapen where she can live out her life in peace, free from performing for tourists, away from loud and deafening music and no longer having to beg for her meals.
What can you do?
There are many ways you can help Lolita see her home waters, and her mother again.
• Demand Lolita’s Retirement.
• Urge NMFS To Include Lolita in the ESA.
• Animal Legal Defence Fund - currently fighting for Lolita in court!
• Orca Network - a strong campaigner for Lolita’s retirement!
Above contains more information on ways you can help - such as emailing APHIS about multiple safety violations outlined in the above link.
Finally, get involved in online communities to stay updated on Lolita’s case.
Free Lolita the Orca!
Freedom For Lolita
Share this video with friends!
The fight for Lolita’s retirement is starting to make progress - the most we’ve seen in a long time! With your voice, we can get her back home and amongst her own kind - where she belongs.
[Other Orcas: Kshamenk]