The Miami Beach City Commission has unanimously passed Mayor Philip Levine’s resolution calling on the Miami Seaquarium to release the aquarium’s lone orca, Lolita, immediately into a seaside sanctuary in the Pacific Northwest.
In an Instagram post, Mayor Levine said that he’s now asking all other Florida mayors to join him in urging the Miami Seaquarium to do the right thing.
Along with thousands of activists, Mayor Levine has been calling on the aquarium to release Lolita into a more spacious habitat for years.
Lolita’s story is heartbreaking. At only 4 years old, she was torn away from her family and ocean home during the largest capture of wild orcas in history. Humans abducted her and six other orcas and sold them to marine parks as mere commodities.
The Miami Seaquarium purchased the 7,000-pound orca for only $6,000 to confine her for fleeting human entertainment.
She’s the sole survivor of the horrifying capture and has spent the past 47 years in the world’s tiniest orca tank—which violates the federal Animal Welfare Act’s minimum size requirements.
Lolita spends her days floating listlessly in her barren tank. She has no mental, physical, or emotional stimulation and no opportunity to engage in any natural types of behavior, like communicating with others of her species. She currently shares her tank with a few Pacific white-sided dolphins, who frequently attack her, and has no orca companions. In 1980, her former orca tankmate, Hugo, killed himself after repeatedly smashing his head into the walls of the tank.
But there’s hope! A protected coastal sea pen off Washington’s San Juan Islands would allow her to experience greater freedom of movement and give her the opportunity to see and communicate with the orca believed to be her mother and the rest of her long-lost family members, who still spend much of their time in the area.
Join Mayor Levine and countless other compassionate people in asking Parques Reunidos (whose U.S. subsidiary, Palace Entertainment, owns the Miami Seaquarium) to give Lolita her freedom and immediately release her into a coastal sanctuary that can provide her with a more natural environment.