From Washington State to Miami, Florida: Lolita’s Story
Since Lolita the orca’s brutal capture off the coast of Seattle in 1970, she has been kept in a tank that is illegal based upon the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) standards for size requirements. Lolita is approximately 21 feet long and 7,000 pounds. Her tank is 20 feet deep at the deepest point and a mere 12 feet deep around the edges. The pool is only 35 feet by 80 feet wide, with a large concrete training platform in the center. In the wild, orca pods are known to swim around 100 miles per day.
In spite of the fact, orcas are one of the most social animals on Earth, remaining with their family pods for life, Lolita has not seen another of her species since 1980. Instead, she is housed with four dolphins, performing two shows per day. The tank has little to no shade from the blistering Miami sun.
Miami Seaquarium’s care of Lolita is the focus of two current court cases: Animal Legal Defense Fund.
This video offers a look into Lolita’s life, made by top orca researcher, Dr. Ingrid Visser:
Returning Her to the Wild:
Many well intentioned people doubt that Lolita can be safely returned to Puget Sound. Some of the world’s top orca researchers and past releases of cetaceans show that captive animals can almost always be successfully reintroduced to their habitats.
In conjunction with Orca Network, we wish to see Lolita retired to a bay pen in her native waters off the coast of Washington State. There is a plan devised for her that would allow her to reside in a generously sized bay pen and be taken care of while slowly being re-acclimated to her natural water (view detailed retirement plan here). The plan is for her to get used to her natural surroundings while being able to interact with her family Southern Residents L-pod. If she adapts well and chooses to do so, she may eventually be released to rejoin her pod. If for any reason she decides to return to the bay pen, she will remain in human care (veterinary check-ups, prepared meals, and daily interaction) for the rest of her life while still being able to live in a spacious, natural environment in close proximity to her wild relatives.
You can help, write letters, make phone calls, and attend peaceful demonstrations! We encourage you to also check out the 2013 award-winning documentary Blackfish highlighting the inherent wrongs of the orca captivity industry. You can also view the 2003 documentary Lolita: Slave to Entertainment, linked below.