Seaquarium Slapped with Notice of Lawsuit over Cruelty to Endangered Orca

Posted on May 11, 2015

PETA, ALDF, and Others Allege That Lone Orca Lolita’s Barren Prison Violates the Endangered Species Act

For immediate release:

Megan Backus, ALDF
David Pearle, PETA

lolita-CC-LEONARDO-DASILVA-article-image-230pxMIAMI — PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Orca Network, and two individuals sent a letter this morning to the Miami Seaquarium—where Lolita the orca is being held without the company of any others of her kind and imprisoned in a cramped tank with no protection from the hot sun—notifying the business of their intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Thanks to a successful petition filed by the coalition and others, Lolita was officially granted the same protection under the ESA as the rest of her family in the wild. The letter contends that Lolita’s imprisonment at the Seaquarium is an unlawful “take” (that is, that she is being harmed, harassed, and/or wounded) in violation of the ESA.

“Lolita has already endured more than 40 years of miserable confinement, with devastating consequences for her well-being,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “PETA is taking action to ensure that this facility’s blatant disregard for her welfare and apparent violation of the law do not cost her more time in a tiny concrete tank.”

“For too long, Lolita has suffered pathetic and illegal conditions at the Miami Seaquarium,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “ALDF intends to see that this facility’s failure to comply with the law, and the harms they’ve caused her, is swiftly corrected by the courts.”

Since 1970, Lolita has been unable to swim more than a tiny fraction of the 100 miles a day she might cover in the wild. Lolita’s tiny tank offers no protection from the sun—which, according to a former caretaker, has caused her skin to crack and bleed. PETA, ALDF, Orca Network, and countless concerned advocates have pushed for years for Lolita to be retired from performing and transferred to a seaside sanctuary that’s waiting for her in her home waters off Washington’s San Juan Islands, where she could interact with her family pod. In the wild, Southern Resident orcas often spend their entire lives with their mothers. Lolita appeared to recognize her pod’s calls decades after being captured, and the orca believed to be her mother—who’s estimated to be about 86 years old—is still thriving.

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32 thoughts on “Seaquarium Slapped with Notice of Lawsuit over Cruelty to Endangered Orca

  1. Gina Powell says:

    I support this legal action 100%. I applaud Lolita’s legal team at ADLF PETA and all others who support this. Her enslavement was illegal right from the start. Her subsequent exploitation for profit by the Hertz family is appalling.

  2. Yes. Retire her and put her back to San juan

  3. Sandra Bell says:

    Yes…I support the lawsuit that has been a long time coming…allow her to return to her home.

  4. Kat Mullin says:

    Please let this Orca live the natural life she so deserves.

  5. klara lipton says:

    Animals love their families like we love ours. Let her go home. She has done nothing wrong and should not be treated like a serialkiller behind bars.

  6. mary knapp says:

    I don’t think I can take much of this cruelty from human beings separating babies from their mothers, cows, monkeys, elephants, rhino. When that newborn calf separated from it’s mother, it was so wrong. Mom chasing after the truck I’ve seen this once before and I still cry. There is so much evil in this world against animals including the sea.

    1. Lindsey says:

      You are not alone. It needs to stop. I hope you’re vegan.

  7. Iris Koch says:

    Let Lolita go home to be rehabilitated and if possible be released to join her family… This brave girl has endured for so long. Set her free!

  8. Donna Sobredo says:

    Let her go… If you want the respect of consumers, do the humane thing, do the right thing-not the greedy corporate slavery that you are keeping alive..

    Whatsoever you do to the least of these, so you do to me…

    LET HER GO!!

  9. Margaret Morton says:

    Please free Lolita! She has suffered for far too long. Keeping orca imprisoned in captivity is so very cruel and so very wrong!

  10. It’s time to end her slavery, she has served a life time sentence for a crime she didn’t commit.
    The Hetz family have filled up their pockets with blood money and now Palace Entertainment continues to abuse her.
    We will never back down until they release her,it’s time for people to understand that the captivity of cetaceans is not EDUCATION!

  11. Mirna Trujillo says:

    We never had the right in the first place to steal her and kill her family members. It is time we right the wrong we have done. She is strong, she can and should be giving the opportunity of being reunited with her mother and the rest of her family.

  12. Christopher Ewing says:

    Please inform Robert Rose. We know Lolita and the others in tanks will all die at some point. Their drugs will not keep them alive forever. We do not want Lolita Or any of the others dying in the tanks!
    They deserve the ocean

  13. Thomas Allison says:

    With what Lolita has been forced to endure, I would not even shed a tear if she ripped into every single trainer who go t near her. They are quick to call her family; I wonder if they lock their own kids in a single room of the house?

  14. Christine Mosso says:

    Lolita needs to be home. Take her out of solitary confinement. She needs to be back with her pod. May this happen very, very, soon.

  15. virginia mendez says:

    I totally support this lawsuit!!!!!

  16. Ginny fine says:

    Please allow her to return to her family to live out the rest of her life in peace. You have made enough money from her at this point,do the right thing and release her. Solitary confinement is simply cruel!

    1. Holly says:

      Please bring her home!!!!!! She has 4 new little cousins this year. It is pure evil (a.k.a. GREED) to leave her in that tank. She could be the animal equivalent of Jaycee Lee Dugard.

  17. ori says:

    yes!! This beautiful girl has suffered long enough and made the owner millions! He refuses to do anything, going against staunch supporters of her freedom. What a dirtbag. SET HER FREE AND ALL CETACEANS IN CAPTIVITY! enslaving these awesome animals and exploiting them is inhumane and cruel! Hope SeaWorld goes down in flames soon!

  18. Amy Smith says:

    It’s time for Lolita to go home. We’ve been fighting for her so long, finally this is the break she needs. Stop the torture and FREE HER NOW!

  19. Mary says:

    Lolita needs to be retired to live compatibly with other Orcas so that she can live out her days in harmony with a pod. The Hertz family are virtual criminals enslaving an intelligent creature such as Lolita. Shut down the Miami Seaquariam and all others. The time has come let’s face it.

  20. Brigitte Jolliffe says:

    Dear Lolita has been the cash cow for the Miami Seaquarium for long enough. She has endured solidarity in illegal confinement for 45 years. Allow her to be retired to a sea pen, where she may feel the currents of the ocean and catch her own food. Most importantly she will be reunited with her family.

  21. kim says:

    Get her out NOW…..there is NO REASON for her to continue to be abused and held captive. Make Miami Seaquarium pay for what they’ve done!

  22. Randy Samberg says:

    Set this Orca free, and close the Seaquarium down, along with any facility like it. People spend their money going to these facilities, completely unknowing of all the cruelty that occurs there. I was one of those people one time, but never again! These places make tons of money off of the backs of animals.

  23. M says:

    This is an absolutely tragic story. Miami and South Florida residents must stop the participation in this cruel establishment. We need to have more respect for oursekves, we live here on a beautiful coast and allow this abuse to happen right here where we live . They must Release her immediately she deserves nothing less but immediate action !

  24. Rebecca Smith says:

    Lolita deserves retirement. She can be taken care of just as good if not better in a sea pen. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard for this cause. Her story changed my life for the better two years ago.

  25. Terri Wms says:

    Please release this creature. The despicable things that people do in the name of “entertainment” never cease to amaze me. Try putting yourselves in others’ shoes and think about whether you’d be happy there.

  26. Alejandro Garcia says:

    I completely agree with the petitions to help Lolita and all captive orcas to be set free. I hope it happens soon

  27. Nancy DeLong says:

    Thank you ALDF and PETA for fighting to right this wrong. I cannot comprehend how the Miami Seaquarium has been allowed to continue to keep Lolita in such poor conditions for decades. Her companion Hugo committed suicide, what does that tell us? Lolita has so many supporters that one would think the USDA and APHIS would have helped her by now. I know you won’t give up on her and I am grateful to you. Each and every day she continues to be held by the Miami Seaquarium must be terrible for her and the ongoing battle for her freedom is taking so long I fear she may never live in the sea or see her family again. I hope the Court will understand there is a time limitation in this case and expedite her release. If the Miami Seaquarium had shoplifted at the corner store they would have been prosecuted years ago. If Lolita was a pet dog she would have gotten help by now. I hope her lawsuit can be expedited as no sane person could justify her continued confinement when there is another option which is in her best interests. Her strong spirit is inspiring and should be honored with a chance to be free from her bathtub. She is enduring life in prison with no hope for parole or to escape the unbelievably cruel solitary confinement she has endured for decades.

  28. Karen says:

    Retire Lolita. She should have never have been taken out of her natural habitat. Retire her so she can recover and rehabilitate to swim in her own sea and live the way she was born to live in open water. The seaquarium tank is too small, she has no real protection from the sun, she has to endure heightened noise levels from the traffic and a densely populated city. She is now officially legally protected against these forms of abuse. This has to stop.

  29. Errol E. Povah says:

    If it hasn’t already, it’s time for this fight to go global…and there is no better opportunity to achieve that than on Sat, June 6, 2015. The occasion: The 3rd annual EMPTY THE TANKS! Please visit for the location of a protest — to end the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises — near you.

    And, no matter where in the world you’re protesting, I hope you’ll make a placard or two specifically for Lolita…even just something as simple as “FREE LOLITA!” or “LIBERATE LOLITA!”


  30. Lani says:

    This makes me furious about how Lolita has been kept a prisoner her whole life alone. It is a heartbreaking miserable crime of Miami Seaquarium having taken her out of the ocean far from where her natural habitat and family are and keeping her in the concrete hell for a good while of her life alone. Everyone at Miami Seaquarium including the owners, management and all employees know it Tt has been an ongoing crime for over 40 years. They all need to be ashamed of themselves, even those that kept their mouths shut when they had the opportunity to speak up and defend Lolita. 2015 needs to be the year to return her back to her family and home in the Northwestern coast of this continent. May this be Gods will for the courts in Florida to make this happen!

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