Skip to Main Content

Government Refuses to Protect Solitary Orca

Written by PETA | May 2, 2012

Despite the endangered-species status of the southern resident orcas, the federal government is refusing to offer imprisoned orca Lolita the same protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that the rest of her family pod enjoys.

Rojer | cc by 2.0


Legal Hypocrisy

You may recall that the National Marine Fisheries Service classified Washington state’s southern resident orca population as endangered, giving it protection from being harmed or harassed under the ESA, but without explanation, it excluded Lolita, who was captured from the pod as a calf and has been held prisoner and forced to perform for the last 42 years. PETA called foul on the unlawful double standard and filed suit on Lolita’s behalf, joined by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Washington residents, and a former employee of the Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita is held captive.

Legal Runaround

The Miami Seaquarium and the federal government filed motions to get the case dismissed, and the judge acquiesced on timing grounds—he didn’t address the merits of the case—meaning that the Miami Seaquarium can continue to confine Lolita to the smallest orca tank in North America (the orca equivalent of a bathtub), prevent her from interacting with any members of her own species, deny her appropriate protection from the sun, and force her to perform silly tricks. But PETA and the ALDF are already regrouping and planning our next move, and the lawsuit’s dismissal is merely a hitch in our efforts to see Lolita released into a seaside sanctuary in her home waters.

You Can Help

Please send a polite e-mail to Eric C. Schwabb, assistant administrator for fisheries, urging him to give Lolita her rightful protection under the ESA.

Related Posts



Post a Comment

If your comment doesn't appear right away, please be patient as it may take some time to publish or may require moderation.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

  • Sharon says:

    I wrote an email to that Schwaab guy, and perhaps he’ll ignore me, but it’s better than doing nothing at all. Captive animals should be set free, regardless. Lolita is so strong, having lived in such poor conditions for over forty years, but the human greed is stronger, unfortunately. I hope that Mr Hertz will grow himself a brain and do what’s best for Lolita, by letting her retire and letting her be with her wild relatives.

  • Mercedes De Windt says:

    Sea world pulls the strings and government is just one of their puppets, just like their public, their dolphins and orcas. It is all about manipulation and being ignorant or selfish, it is high time for compassion for animals and government should be giving a good example.U wonder if there is money involved??? Look up the word rescue it means helping AND setting free. Dolphinariums say they help and then keep these creatures to imprisson them for their shortened life. People who are touching or coming to close to these creatures in the wild are punished with fines, GOOD… but why is it allowed in dolphinariums??? Government should truly defend and protect all orcas and dolphins,let them start with rescuing Lolita!!!

  • Carla* says:

    Ron.. Please READ.. “Effort to see Lolita released into a SEASIDE SANCTUARY”

  • Sophia S says:

    Orca captivity and reproduction in captivity should be illegal, humanity has seen many cases of liberated orcas which fail. lets hit the problem from the root… why are there people who think its ok to profit from abusing these beautiful animals? this is animal cruelty and it should be sanctioned.

  • SC Girl says:

    Hertz is a patetic businessman who ran a business into the ground that he was given. Wometco used to be a giant in Miami, but Herz’s poor business decisions have made it the dump of a business you see today. Lolita is the only reason that Hertz still has any money and he’s fighting to keep that legacy because it’s the only way his children know how to work (really making Lolita work for them). This whale deserves a chance at freedom.

  • Howard Garrett says:

    Ron, you’re right about the conditions at the Seaquarium, but I don’t think you’re up to date on the capabilities of the species Lolita is a member of. First, she’s not that old at about 45. That’s not old age for an orca. It’s certainly adult, but it’s roughly the same as in human years, so Lolita still has many very active years ahead of her if she gets out of that tub. But mainly, if you look at our proposal, there is no point at which there is any real danger for her, because if she doesn’t swim away with her family we will be prepared to take care of her, feed her and give her companionship indefinitely. Obviously there is much more to the plan to cover all sorts of needs and contingencies, but hopefully you get the point, that there’s no need to fear for her safety

  • Ron Jon says:

    Does it suck that there are animals like this in captivity, yes it does. The problem is that this seaquarium has had this Orca long before they were made endangered and is their property. Also if this Orca has been in captivity its entire life it would put the whale in a worse position by sending her to the ocean with no survival skills. I think because of that we would be doing the animal less justice by releasing her to death in the ocean instead of a place that they can take care of her. But for God sakes get her a bigger tank to live in and do not hold and more animals like this in captivity.

  • lisa says:

    Lolita was taken from the wild as a baby torn away from her parents and made to perform for 42 years not allowed to interacte or build friendships with fellow orcas how utterly lonely she must feel, quite frankly im suprised she is still alive and not given up on life, the judge acquiesced on timing grounds what excatley do’s that mean??? sounds like he was paid off by the seaquaruim and the fedral goverment to do nothing.

  • Shannon says:

    Disgusting. Double standard much? This beautiful, one of a kind soul needs our help to protect her, and to help her to thrive in her life. Nothing is being provided to her to help her thrive in her environment. There is hardy enough provided to ensure her survival, let alone enough to allow her the ability to thrive in these neglectful conditions. Please do the right thing.

  • Shannon says:

    Disgusting. Double standard much? This beautiful, one of a kind soul needs our help to protect her, and to help her to thrive in her life. Nothing is being provided to her to help her thrive in her environment. There is hardy enough provided to ensure her survival, let alone enough to allow her the ability to thrive in these neglectful conditions. Please do the right thing.

  • Shannon says:

    Disgusting. Double standard much? This poor, beautiful, one of a kind soul deserves every single thing she needs to not only survive in this life, but to thrive. Nothing to help her thrive is being provided, in fact, the opposite in true. Help Lolita!

  • Howard Garrett says:

    We are grateful to PETA and ALDF and the plaintiffs for working for Lolita. How much longer can we expect the miracle of Lolita’s survival to continue? So much institutional cruelty is arrayed to keep her confined to that tub. Any way you look at the natural history of orcas will inform anyone that incarcerating her in that concrete cell is like solitary confinement in a straightjacket. We’re waking up as a society to the abuses of captivity for whales and dolphins, but it seems the owners of the circuses are the last to see it, so regulatory agencies and the judicial system have to carry out moral values. It’s so encouraging to know that experienced legal minds are working on making that happen.

  • Rebecca Lewis says:

    Protect the Southern residents means to protect all in the wild and captivity. She needs the same protection as her family in the wild. Do the right thing and stop thinking of yourself, protect her.

  • pamela cote says:

    Knowing what we do about the way Orcas live in the wild,how can we confine Lolita to suffer alone in a pool the equivalent to the space a human would have in a bathtub or small closet? with no socialization with her “Pod”? with no escape from sun(shallow pool)? doesn’t this spell “neglect and abuse” in the name of “entertainment”? please do the right thing

Connect With PETA