Federal Agency’s New Action May Mean Release for Orca at Seaquarium

Posted on January 24, 2014

Lolita to Gain Protected Status Following PETA, ALDF Petition

For immediate release:


Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
David Perle, PETA

lolita-feature-article-image-x2Miami — Currently confined alone to a tank at the Miami Seaquarium that’s smaller than even the minimum standard required by federal law, Lolita the orca’s future could soon take a turn for the better. Following a petition by PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Orca Network, and others, the National Marine Fisheries Service today proposed a rule to grant Lolita the same status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that covers all other Southern Resident orcas—the pod that she was seized from in 1970. PETA and the ALDF believe that the current confinement conditions that Lolita is subjected to are prohibited by the ESA. Today’s action opens the door to the prospect that she could be retired from performing and transferred to a seaside sanctuary, something PETA has long argued for.

“Lolita should never have been excluded from the Endangered Species Act in the first place, and now the government has righted that wrong,” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. “Lolita has suffered in that tank every day for more than four decades, and PETA is working hard to see her one day freed from her ordeal.”

“If Lolita had originally been granted the endangered status that she deserves, she might be back with her family by now,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The ALDF pledges to do everything in its power to see to it that she’s returned to the sea as soon as possible.”

Lolita—whose family was listed as endangered in 2005—is held in the smallest orca tank in North America and has been kept without another orca since 1980. She is afforded no protection from the sun, and she’s forced to perform tricks, which may violate the ESA’s protection against harm and harassment.

PETA and the ALDF will continue to work to have Lolita released into a seaside sanctuary that is waiting for her in her home waters off Washington’s San Juan Island and, if possible, back into her family pod. In the wild, Southern Resident orcas often spend their entire lives with their mothers. Lolita recognized her pod’s calls decades after being captured, and her 85-year-old mother is still thriving.

For more information, please visit PETA.org and ALDF.org.

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85 thoughts on “Federal Agency’s New Action May Mean Release for Orca at Seaquarium

  1. wendy van hoof says:

    waaau.w that would be great. im sp trilled to read this. i hope it wil happen:D

    i cant wait to se her free.

    always keep fighthing. :)

    she belongs free they all do.

    1. Lisa White says:

      Please keep fighting for Lolita. She has been forced to endure for four decades, this is sooooo sad, poor Lolita.
      It seems that humans don’t realize the price animals have to pay just for their enjoyment!!!!!!! They feel pain, frustration and sorrow just as humans do. This has been nothing to her but sorrow to be taken from her loving mother and family. Just imagine their sorrow losing Lolita, just as a human mother losing her child that she bore and loved so incredibly deeply. It’s like a part of you dies. I’m sure for Lolita and her entire family this has been a very tragic event for them. Thank you for working so tirelessly and diligently to free her. Please don’t Stop until she is back with her family…I pray that they can reunite and SOON. She deserves what God made her for, just as we humans do. This is way overdue for her and her family!!!!! Please….SET LOLITA FREE❤️

      1. Susan Trear says:

        Lisa – none of that is lost on the humans who commit these cruelties, including Sea World. It’s all about money; they don’t care about the animals’ suffering. Period.

  2. Natasha Allan says:

    Lolita (Tokitae) needs to be free. She’s earned her retirement. Her accommodation is illegal, and holding orcas captive should be illegal too, WORLDWIDE! Although her mother can live at least another 15 years, who knows when she will unfortunately pass away; Lolita needs to be free, and possibly be reunited with her family again, so that she can see, feel, communicate, play and just be with her mother before she passes away.

  3. Susan Mae says:

    I can’t wait to see her with her family. Please make it happen. She deserves the opportunity! Thank you!!!

  4. Lisa says:

    I truly hope that she has an actual chance at freedom to join her family….her true meaning of life:)

  5. Telsa says:

    This is such wonderful news … after a horrendous week of dolphin slaughter in Taiji, some positive news is needed!

  6. adelen says:

    Cant wait. She has been waiting for a long time for this. Lolita is coming home. =0)

  7. Lori says:

    I hope and pray that this happens and I also hope someone would grant the same freedom to poor Tilikum, as he has suffered long enough as well…

  8. Sharon Helmick says:

    Although long overdue…this is wonderful news!

  9. meera says:

    THANK GOD!!! This is great news and I cannot wait for her to be released!!

  10. Åse Nilsson says:

    I wish for Lolita to come home !

  11. Claudia Peters says:

    Wouldn’t that be the greatest act of love that Miami Seaquarium could do for Lolita? To let her retire to a sea pen, and get her rehabilitated. I know for sure she would be welcomed back by her family in no time! I hope that this is it!!! For Lolita, for her mother Ocean Sun, for all of them. Here’s to hope. Please, make it happen. It is overdue!

  12. clint ainsworth says:

    Best news I’ve read in along time. Keep fighting for freedom

  13. Deborah Metzger says:

    FREE LOLITA! She not only deserves to be retired to a sanctuary, but the ‘people’ who exploited and harmed her should be arrested and charged with animal cruelity.

  14. Kim Norris says:

    What can be done to start this process to free Tilikium in Orlando FL? and Morgan. Please share with me and help educate me on the process and procedure and I will be there.
    Kim Norris

    1. Michele Locker says:

      unfortunately, Tilikum cannot be freed due to the condition of his teeth and some other factors. right now Lolita has the best chance of survival if freed properly into a sea pen and then released.

  15. Lynne Agostini says:

    Please Set Her Free!!!! Thank You!!!!

  16. Aarthy Longino says:

    This is one of two days Lolita has been waiting for. The other day is when she swims free in the Ocean for the first time in 40 years. This beautiful soul deserves this most basic right that God granted her and humans took away. I hope she is set free and finds happiness for the remainder of her life. We love you Lolita, and will never give up.

  17. Fiona says:

    I do hope this happens,, she needs to be free and live a happy life.

  18. Lori James says:

    I am so happy, I’m crying. Every petition signed, tweet sent, and now prayers answered.

  19. Daphné says:

    What à amazing news. I hope she finds her family back and this is the beginning of many more wise and respectful decisions concerning cetaceans…

  20. Annabelle says:

    Such wonderful news. I hope Lolita lives to see the day she’s finally freed from her tiny prison and is given the opportunity to make her own choices. This is a great first step in that direction. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long to make the rest happen for her. She’s been there long enough, she deserves that retirement. Thanks to the ADLF, PETA and Orca Network.

  21. We have to put end for all the arm Mankind has done in any shape or form, this cruelty has to STOP.
    It seems that Politics are corrupted,bcs $$$$$ wise.
    We have to keep on until we get the total release of any kind of Cetaceans being held or slaughter Worldwide.
    Humans wake up.

  22. mariane smith says:

    Bring Lolita back to her family where she belongs..she deserves to be free and live a long happy life with other Orcas out in the ocean not in a bath tub!

  23. Lizmarí says:

    Woow! I need to see this happen!!!!
    She’s has been waiting for this! I bet that!
    And i hope Miamiseaquarium closes his doors
    After this! FREE LOLITA >it’s Time

  24. Steve C says:

    To all those who researched this, wrote the briefs and those who supported this endeavor, much respect and thanks to you all!! Congrats on this!

  25. Jacy says:

    Please release ALL captive mammals! They deserve to be at home not locked in a scary cage!! Shame on this World for abuse and cruelty to these precious babies!!

  26. Jan Hare says:

    Enormous thanks to PETA and ALDF!!! Now if this could just move quickly. It’s been heart wrenching to see her enslaved for 40 years.

  27. Lucy Muller says:

    Why can’t she be taken from Miami Seaquarium immediately?

  28. ingrid says:

    whoooa what a sad story! and since 1980!!! my goodness, this poor Lolita needs to be freed!!!

  29. Sandy says:

    Why do we call ourselves “human”? We capture animals for our own entertainment .. and profit! I am as guilty as the next guy .. I have enjoyed zoo’s and aquariums, but I now realize how inhuman that is, how would you like someone to take your children and stick them in a cage or fish bowl for others to make a profit from us who are stupid enough to pay to to watch the that “side show” .. I agree with Deborah Metzger .. FREE LOLITA and all the others .. sorry folks but Zoos and Aquariums are no better than the old “freak” shows .. Its time for us to stand up and take account of our actions .. we should be ashamed of ourselves for what we have done!
    Just sayin!

  30. Leigh Brownsmith. says:

    OMG! That would be amazing. I can’t believe how
    long she has hung on for. God love her, being left
    like that all this time. She should never have been
    taken in the first place. It’s high time this wrong was
    made right. When could this be happening? :))

  31. Eva says:

    Wow I’m tearing up just reading this. Your day of freedom will come Lolita! Keep up the good fight!

  32. Leigh brownsmith says:

    This would be amazing. She’s hung on for so long in
    these deplorable conditions. She should never have been taken in the first place. It’s time to right this awful
    wrong. When could this happen?

  33. jan robertson says:

    at last Lolita will have the life she so deserves,a life of freedom. I hope one day all orca and dolphins will be free from the torturous life they live in captivity

  34. Heather says:

    I think sea world as a whole should be turned from entertainment to rescue only. They could still charge and we could look as animals are rehabilitated. People would still go and the animals would be better cards for than they are now. These animals have rights they are living breathing things not to be used!!!!!

  35. Doug says:

    If the feds, in the name of protecting endangered species stops the flow of rare rosewood guitars from coming into the US, surely the government could put similar effort into taking Lolita back to the waters she came from to live in a more natural sanctuary for the rest of her years.


  36. Diana Rodriguez-Zimmerer says:

    Just look at the size of that pool. What person in their right mind would ever think this was ok?! This is cruelty and abuse beyond comprehension. Free her immediately!!!!

  37. Jasmine says:

    This is great news! She does not belong in that tank! Release the poor girl and let her breath freedom!

  38. Kayla says:

    Thank goodness! I hope they get her out into the ocean and I hope the owners of that horrendous “tank” (swimming pool) get sued or something worse. Please set Lolita free!!

  39. Karen McCauley says:

    Could it really take up to a year? Every day there is a tragedy for her.

  40. NINA says:

    I truly hope, she and all whales and dolphins will be free!Animals are not ours entertainment etc. We don’t own them!!!!

  41. Michele Jankelow says:

    Sooner than later would be merciful! Why wait, she has done her time! PLEASE!!!

  42. Katherine says:

    In tears! I have waited ten years to hear this news,since I learned of Lolita and her being in captivity,in a pool not for for a goldfish!

  43. Norma Scott says:

    Please set Lolita free , she has suffered long enough, let her live the rest of her life in the sea where she belongs…..Dolphins dont belong in tanks !!!!!

  44. Bridgett Heinly says:

    Its about time! Hopefully it doesn’t take another decade to get her to a sanctuary in the ocean where she can thrive with the natural sea currents.

  45. valda purvis says:

    Hopefully this is the beginning towards Lolita’s freedom -we humans find something -beautiful and then imprison it -just to look at-occasionally -so sad -what a miserable life to be seperated from her family and environment – with all the great documentaries we can observe nature and all it’s wonders from the comfort of our living room-please -free her.


    Once again, ALDF comes through!! Thanks for all you do for ALL animals!

  47. Diane Bonn Allen says:

    Why’d you wait so long? Why imprison the very nature of creatures to begin w/except for monetary gain… Thanking Creator, the Universe, the Power of Positive forces now. Go Lolita!!! Sadness is they’ll just imprison another one like a Circus Freak for the amusement of mankind.

  48. Barbara Griffith says:

    I live in Washington state and as far as I know this state banned anyone from taking any Orca from the waters around this state in the 70’s including Puget Sound. If Lolita could be transferred to a large pen open to the ocean where she could call out, her pod would find her in no time. This is one reason the so-called theme parks should be banned from even breeding these Orca’s. When a baby Orca is removed from its mother and sold to another theme park you are basically kidnapping it from the parent. I believe these whales do feel deep grief at the loss of a baby Orca or a member of the family pod. These whales are some of the most intelligent creatures in our oceans. They need to be left strictly alone and all of the Orca prisoners in the theme parks need to be transitioned back to the ocean where they came from including being fed live fish so they can be taught to hunt live prey.

    1. Tricia says:

      Well said!

  49. Renee Miller says:

    Reading this makes me so hopeful and happy. Seeing this beautiful creature in such a small tank, alone, makes my heart hurt so badly. I truly hope that this is the start of the release of ALL captive cetaceans. They belong back in wild!!!

  50. Cheryl Barry says:

    Praying for your freedom!

  51. Marilyn Beidler says:

    I hope she is set free. Let’s clean up the oceans for her!!!
    She deserves to live in a beautiful home, not one trashed by humans.

  52. Tricia says:

    Thank you so much for all your efforts! Let’s free all the whales in captivity or place them in sea sanctuaries! Let’s get Lolita back to her family!!!

  53. Dawn Davies says:

    I really hope she has a chance at freedom. Never mind the size of the tank (horrific as that is), to essentially have been kept in solitary confinement for 34 years must be an unimaginable torture for a social intelligent being. I don’t know how the staff at that aquarium sleep at night. Shame on them.

  54. Shannon says:

    That is great news for Lolita. Hopefully everything follows through on there end of the bargin. She needs to be returned to her family and living out what remaining life she has left with her real family. In all honesty all orcas should be set free and all marine parks should be shut down. I feel sorry for all orcas tgat are kept in capitvity but most of all I feel sorry for Tlilkum. He is the one in dire need of being set free.

  55. Karen says:

    All I can say is if this happens Tilly is one step closer to being free as well… I have never had the pleasure of meeting Lolita, but I have stared into tillikum’s eye and seen the sadness…
    All captive orcas, even captive born orcas deserve better than a pool

  56. Hilda Cummings says:

    It’s time to give her freedom back, Lolita has served a 43 year sentence for a crime she didn’t commit.
    Miami Seaqurium profits from Lolita are over 160,000,000 release the cash cow TODAY!
    Lolita has managed to stay alive this long cause she has hope to be reunited with her family, she’s not living but surviving.
    Give her freedom back before is too late!

  57. Jeff Cummings says:

    Lolita has been a slave for way too long and should have the right to be reunited with her family.
    Give her freedom back!

  58. Jeff Cummings says:

    Free Lolita, she needs to be back with her family.
    Let’s stop the animal abuse, captivity is not education!

  59. Hilda Cummings says:

    Please give her freedom back, she is not living but surviving. She is staying alive because she has hope that one day she will be reunited with her family.

  60. Corine says:

    Very encouraging news ! It makes my day and I hope and pray Lolita will soon enjoy a well deserved rest with her pod in the ocean. Lolita is hopefully an example for the future of the very young female orca Morgan, ‘abducted’ after she stranded at the Dutch coast in 2010. Although all parties involved agreed that Morgan should be rehabilitated and released, the Dolfinarium in Holland quickly transferred her to SeaWorld in Tenerife – called Loro Parque-. Morgan is being harassed every day by two male orcas and she got injured because of this and because of being over stressed . If you look under Blackfish, you will find a campaign to urge the sponsor of Seaworld, SouthWest Airlines, to stop their support to Seaworld. This is worth our support worldwide!

  61. Gina b says:

    Please free Lolita!!!!!! She deserves it!!!! Please rescue her!!!

  62. A nne symons says:

    Why not next week? It shouldn’t take long to organise. This has been thought about for 40 years,since her capture. This is the most wonderful news,but the quicker the better. Now lets free the rest instead of capturing more.

  63. A nne symons says:

    Why moderation? Urgency would be more appropriate I think

  64. Jessica says:

    This is fantastic! Please do the right thing and set this angel free, where she can live out the rest of her days as nature intended.

  65. Nicola Anderson says:

    Set her free Orcas & dolphins should be free in the sea not living in concrete tanks!
    She has more than ‘earned’ her freedom from these greedy immoral ‘people’.. It’s outrageous that humas are allowed to take an animal from the wild to do as they want as if this creature is their property- it disgusts & sickens me!
    Set her free now and all other captive orcas & dolphins..

  66. Mary Perri says:

    The time has come & is long past when we should imprison these intelligent souls. They need to be free and we should be ashamed of taking everything that is important to them away for the sake of this disgusting form of entertainment. Please release her & let it set compassion in motion to empty all the tanks around the world.

  67. Carolyn Koppel says:

    This is wonderful news! Howie Garrett and his wife, Susan, have fought so long for this! Everyone must me thrilled!

    And Toki should be able to live the life she was born to live. Maybe one day have a calf. Her time imprisoned in that tiny tank may be almost over. Too good to believe!

  68. Jennifer Pinto says:

    After 43 years Toki deserves to be set free! Can anyone imagine how amazing it would be to see her reconnect with her mother after all these years? What a story that would be. I pray we all get to see it happen!

  69. Ricky Grimes says:

    This is sad news. I love the orca and dolphin show at Miami seaquarium. I hope that she isn’t released and that the show continues. Should every animal from every zoo be released? Why are orcas any different? They aren’t special. They’re an animal.

    1. Kristy says:

      Ricky why don’t you watch some orca clips on youTube or open a book, orcas are the most intelligent animals in the kingdom, some even say more than us. I would go back and delete your comment because it makes you look like an idiot and you will not win on pages like this, so stop trolling.

  70. Lotte says:

    It would be great if Miami Seaquarium would let Lolita retire in a sea pen, and get her rehabilitated.The sea aquarium says she could be hurt.. Well I rather b outside & take the risk of getting hurt than being imprissoned for the rest of my life! Living means taking risks 4 all of us! #Freelolita Everything is better than to get psychotic in a tank!

  71. Susan Bonta says:

    Lolita remembers her mom’s calls – her mother will remember her, too….Let Lolita go home.

  72. Leah says:

    Ban non human captivity and exploitation!! Free these animals from a life of misery…

  73. Michelle Correa says:

    I never understood why these sea creatures were captured from their home and then put in a tiny tank to do tricks for humans. We never needed this and now after 44 years we are trying to free an animal that should of never been in this situation. Why does it have to come down to statistics and research to realize that this was wrong from day one. If Sea World is trying to save harmed sea life then do so and then release them back into their environment but you cross the line when you keep them captive. How is that not common sense to these people. Free her and all the others that they keep confined, shut down the entertainment and confinement and be a Sea Rescue and release facility. You can still educate people but loose the captivity. It’s just plain wrong. FREE LOLITA INTO A SAFE SANCUTARY WITH PLENTY OF OCEAN TO ROAM.

  74. This is fantastic news – and I wish this for all mammals in captivity ! This slavery needs to come to an end !

  75. Irena Franchi says:

    Protect Lolita

  76. Jennifer says:

    I can not wait to see an end to all sea creature captivities.. I am praying for her and the return to her family!!

  77. Jillybean says:

    Be freeeeeeeeee Lolita :)

  78. Cheryl says:

    Will be a great day indeed :) And pure happiness for all who worked tirelessly towards this happening. Thank you all and one

  79. Cheryl says:

    Will be a great day indeed :) And pure happiness for all who worked tirelessly towards this happening. Thank you one and all

  80. Marge says:

    Does this mean that there’s a chance Tilikum and the others at Seaworld will also be free at some point? Or is this just for Lolita? Either way, it’s a step forward!

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