Lolita is dead. After more than 50 years in a cramped tank, his miserable existence at the Miami Seaquarium has come to an end.
Earlier this year, at a press conference held in Miami on March 30, the Miami Seaquarium announced its intention to release Lolita (aka "Tokitae", "Toki" or "Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut" ) in a coastal sanctuary in Washington State.
This announcement followed a massive campaign by PETA entities – including several lawsuits filed by PETA USA on behalf of Lolita – as well as campaigning by local residents and celebrities, which raised awareness public opinion to its plight through dozens of protests, and to The Dolphin Company's partnership with the Friends of Toki. Although the project never came to fruition, it was made possible through the generosity of philanthropist Jim Irsay, owner and general manager of the Indianapolis Colts football team.
The capture of Lolita
Lolita was around 4 years old when she was snatched from her family and the ocean in the biggest capture of wild orcas in history. She couldn't have known that she would spend the next fifty years in the smallest pool of orcas in the world, never to see her family again.
In 1970, teams used speedboats, planes and explosives to seal the entire Southern Resident orca community - which numbered 80 members - in a narrow cove. Four of them drowned and seven young were kidnapped and sold to aquariums around the world. The Miami Seaquarium valued Lolita's life at $6,000.
Of the seven orcas captured, Lolita was the last survivor. The orca believed to be his mother, who is said to be still swimming in the wild, probably survived him.
Terrell C. Newby, Ph.D.
First christened "Tokitae", Lolita suffered in a pool smaller than any other ever used to imprison an orca for life. This transfer was not only cruel, it was also illegal under the US Federal Animal Welfare Act. The plan to transfer her to a coastal sanctuary came far too late, and she languished in her hellish prison until the day she died.
his lonely life
For more than 50 years, Lolita saw nothing but the concrete walls that surrounded her. His only companion was Hugo, another unfortunate orc who had been caught in a net and kidnapped during the raids. He rebelled against captivity, regularly banging his head against walls, and even cut himself badly during one episode where he smashed the glass of an observation window. Finally, in 1980, he hit the wall of the pool so hard that he died. The official report indicates that he died of a cerebral aneurysm. Hugo had taken drastic measures to end his suffering, but Lolita was left alone.
For decades, Lolita has performed her sad and desolate tricks. She called her lost family, using her group's own dialect. Killer whales have a very long memory, and she was probably thinking of her family or missing the days when she could swim freely and dive deep.
Close to freedom
When Lolita's Southern Resident orca family was listed as endangered, the US government excluded them from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Following a lawsuit, the government accepted an official petition submitted by PETA USA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Orca Network, that Lolita could not be excluded from her family's classification as of this law. Other lawsuits filed by these groups have shown that its pool does not even reach the minimum size required by federal law. It was finally planned to send her back to the ocean, but she did not succeed.
Orcas still need help
It's too late for Lolita, but not for the other captive orcs. Pay homage to Lolita by refusing to buy an entry ticket to a marine park.
PETA is asking Parques Reunidos to retire the orcas Wikie, Inouk, Moana and Keijo. Join us by sending a message to the marine park now:
Written by Marie J.