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The 9-Year-Old Activist Who’s on SeaWorld’s Radar

Written by Michelle Kretzer | August 14, 2014

She’s one of Sam Simon’s personal heroes. She can protest with the best of them. She runs her own business and donates all the proceeds to ending marine mammal captivity. And—oh, yeah—she’s only 9 years old.

Maeve Wolski, Winner of Hero to Orcas Award

Maeve Wolski can rattle off the names of captive orcas like most kids can rattle off video games. The tiny dynamo isn’t even in fourth grade yet, but she’s already making waves for captive marine mammals in her hometown of Chicago and around the world. So PETA Kids is presenting Maeve with a well-deserved Hero to Orcas Award.


Maeve organized her first demonstration at the age of 7 when her second-grade teacher planned a field trip to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Not only did Maeve refuse to go on the trip because Shedd holds beluga whales and dolphins captive, she also asked for permission to present a report to her class on why she wouldn’t be joining them. When her teacher denied her request, telling her, “We don’t share our personal business with the class,” Maeve and her mother took the issue to the school principal and she was allowed to give the presentation. And when it came time for the third grade field trip to Shedd, two more students refused to go.

Maeve Wolski, Winner of Hero for Orcas Award

Maeve’s mother, Veronica, nominated PETA friend Sam Simon for an award for his work to end marine mammal captivity. When Sam won, Veronica and Maeve were flown to Los Angeles for the award presentation. Of all the notable attendees that evening, Sam spent most of his time with Maeve. She gave him the speech she had prepared for her class, which he took with him. Sam read Maeve’s speech on his radio show three times—once to Death at SeaWorld author David Kirby, which made Maeve’s year.

Maeve Wolski, Winner of Hero to Orcas Award

Over the summer, Maeve’s been busy running her “Liberty Lemonade” stand. She donates all of the money she earns to help free Lolita, the lone orca at the Miami Seaquarium who’s spent the last 44 years in the tiniest orca tank in the U.S. Maeve and her mother set up the lemonade stand in locations all over Chicago, with Maeve often bringing her friends along to help. They also go door-to-door selling Liberty Lemonade and educating people about Lolita’s plight and how to help her. Marine animal abusement parks, such as the Miami Seaquarium and SeaWorld, teach kids all the wrong lessons: That it’s acceptable to imprison animals, deprive them of everything that is natural and important to them, breed them and separate families, and allow them to go insane from loneliness, stress, confusion, and frustration. Little Maeve isn’t buying it. She’s going to keep advocating for majestic marine mammals until the last of the captives is free. And she’s going to get her entire generation on board with her.

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  • Cathy Gilmore says:

    What a little HERO!!! Thank you Maeve and Mom!!! From Australia!

  • I am so proud of you my darling warrior. I know that sometimes you don’t want to go do the lemonade stands… but you don’t want the Orcas in the tanks even more, and you go to help anyway… I am very proud to be your mom.

  • Betty Conway says:

    How incredible that this young girl has worked SO hard and so long to bring attention to the plight of the sea animals that we continue to catch, cage, and abuse in the name of “entertainment” for us! I hope I live long enough to either (1) See SeaWorld shut down
    completely, or (2) That SeaWorld with discontinue their practices of the last 50 years and STOP imprisoning ocean animals. IT IS WRONG! STOP!!! No thinking person should EVER walk through the gates of SeaWorld until they STOP these barbaric and inhumane practices.

  • Martha Cody says:

    Go Maeve Go – I am behind you all the way!

  • Bravo young Maeve!! you are an inspiration! Keep fighting the good fight for those without a Voice. From the UK I salute you!!

  • Let the children’s voices ring loud and louder to free Lolita and Morgan home, and all the other orcas who desperately need to return to the sea. The world hears you! Thank you Maeve!

  • Evie says:

    You go, Maeve ! Great job. Thanks to your mom too.

  • Andrea says:

    Woooowww you really inspire me!!! Everything you are doing to free the orcas is just awesome!!! Keep that way and never lose the courage I know that together we can build a better place to live (without seaworld obviously). Greetings from Mexico!!