The fight to free Lolita, the lone captive orca at the Miami Seaquarium, continues: PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the Orca Network, and private citizens concerned about Lolita’s living conditions have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging its outrageous decision to renew the Seaquarium’s federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license.
Failing Lolita—and the Law
The AWA, which the USDA is charged with enforcing, prohibits licensing a facility that is out of compliance with the act. Yet the Seaquarium keeps Lolita without the company of another orca in a tank so small that it fails to meet the minimum legal size requirements and also offers no protection from the burning sun—all violations of the law.
In nature, where Lolita’s mother still thrives at more than 80 years of age, orcas live in tight family units, with bonds that may last a lifetime. At the Seaquarium, Lolita swims in endless circles in a tiny barren cement tank. This highly intelligent and social wild animal has been without an orca companion since 1980, when her tank mate, Hugo, died of a brain aneurysm after reportedly ramming his head into the side of their tank, in what many believe to be a desperate attempt to break out of the tank—or even commit suicide.
© Terrell C. Newby, Ph.D.
Lolita was violently captured during a roundup of the now-endangered Southern Resident killer whales off the coast of Washington State’s Whidbey Island.
What You Can Do
Please send a polite e-mail to Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, eastern regional director of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA, asking that the agency revoke the Miami Seaquarium’s exhibitor license. Also, never, ever visit any marine park or aquarium.