This female orca has been living in isolation since her companion Hugo died from bashing his head repeatedly against the walls of their tank. This was back in 1980. Since then, Lolita has circled her pools alone at the Miami Seaquarium. Luckily, countless animal lovers have been fighting to get her free and to return her to her pod, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Advocates have long asserted Lolita’s cramped concrete tank is too small, and the USDA finally agreed that yes, Lolita’s enclosure may indeed be illegal under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), whose guidelines state that the tank must be at minimum twice the dimensions of the length of her body. A petition on Care2 says that if Lolita swims vertically, her body is as long as the depth of the tank. This is the smallest and oldest marine park tank in North America, which says a lot considering all captive cetaceans are kept in dangerously small enclosures that put their mental, emotional, and physical health at risk.
Not only is Lolita’s tank terribly cramped, but she is kept in isolation away from other orcas. The petition explains how Lolita was captured from the wild in 1970 off the coast of Washington state in Puget Sound. She was separated from her family and pod during the struggle and many of family members still swim freely in those waters. Just like humans, orcas develop strong bonds with their families and losing a member is nothing short of heartbreaking. Studies have found that the brain lobe in orcas that controls emotional awareness and memory is much larger than the average humans’ and these animals also possess the ability to recognize, remember, reason, communicate, perceive, adapt to change, problem solve and understand. Knowing this, it wouldn’t be far off to say that Lolita and her family could remember one another. Many have likened Lolita’s capture to a child being kidnapped, this image alone is enough to make anyone empathize with this whale’s plight.
Although many complaints have been filed to free Lolita, there has yet to be any lucky in gaining her the life she deserves. It might seem the fight to free Lolita is a losing battle, but we cannot give up on her. This beautiful animal deserves to live the remainder of her years in a sea sanctuary where she can finally swim and be in the company of other orcas. Perhaps one day, after ample rehabilitation, she could even return to her pod.
Please take a moment to sign this petition demanding that the USDA and Miami Seaquarium finally release Lolita and the other cetaceans held captive in the park.
In addition to signing the petition, please remember to boycott Miami Seaquarium and any other marine park or aquarium that exploits animals. Educate your friends and family about the truth of whales and dolphins held in captivity, and if you wish to do even more, write a review for these marine parks on TripAdvisor and other websites. The fight to empty the tanks begins with you!
Image Source: Pixabay / pexels.com