Elisabeth Torres, Global Animal 

Lolita is an orca whale who has been captive at the Miami Seaquarium for over 40 years. She was taken from her pod at just four years old and brought to the facility, which is the smallest orca whale housing in the nation. When she is not performing, Lolita is left to swim in her tank by herself day in and out, while Seaquarium owners, Arthur and Andrew Hertz, have profited tens of millions of dollars during her four decade enslavement. 

When not performing, Lolita is confined to a small tank. Photo Credit: Slaveforentertainment.com

Lolita was not always the only orca at the Miami Seaquarium. Years ago another whale was briefly housed with her, but died after slamming his head into a concrete structure in the middle of the tank. Something that might not have happened if the tank wasn’t smaller than mandated by the USDA. Killer whales are highly intelligent and social beings that develop close bonds with pod members, and Lolita has been without a companion since 1980.

An even more unfortunate part of Lolita’s situation is that she is an endangered species. The non-captive members of her Southern Resident pod are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but without explanation, the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) did not extend the protection to the captive members of the pod. Even though federal law prohibits the taking, harming, or harassing of endangered species, Lolita remains captive in a tank that falls short of federal regulations for housing orcas.

Now a federal court must decide if being a member of an endangered species will allow Lolita to enjoy the freedoms promised to her in the ESA, which could include transferring her to a sea pen in her native waters and possibly even releasing her back into the wild. In an attempt to keep their big money performer at all costs, Arthur and Andrew Hertz have intervened to have the case thrown out. The Seaquarium is already responsible for the capture and exploitation of Lolita, and the death of an orca. Female orcas live an average of 50 years, and Lolita is at least 44 now. Surely it is time for her to retire. Getting Lolita protected under the ESA will ensure that she has the ability to enjoy what is left of her life. Click our take action mouse below to sign the petition urging the NMFS and Secretary of Commerce to let Lolita live as a free orca for the rest of her life. 

Sign the petition to get Lolita the freedom she deserves.





  1. A little research will clearly tell you, freeing her would not be a risk at all. First of all, if you watch this documentary http://www.slavetoentertainment.com/index2.htm it tells you all about how there is a well drawn up plan for her release. They would not just throw her in the ocean and bid farewell. They did this with Keiko: they made him a pen in his home waters, as soon as he was in it his energy levels skyrocketed, and he was extremely curious about the other orcas he could hear. He learned how to feed himself again. They would take him out of the pen (which was still a gigantic area of the bay where he had alot more freedom) and they would lead him to the other orcas where he would go off and play with them but he always came back, until one day he didn’t. They had a tag on him, they monitered him and watched as he went all the way across the ocean to Norway. They met him on the other side and he had not lost any weight at all, and even had marks to suggest he was attempting to mate. Eventually he did get sick and die, but that was after 5 years of freedom. What would you rather have? 40 years of captivity, isolation from others of your kind with only a completely different species to talk to, never feeling the pull of the tide, never hearing the infinate sounds of your echoes in the ocean, only concrete and pretreated fish and stadiums full of loud people and bright lights until the day you die? OR home, returning to your family, because even after 40 years they would still know her, thier memory length is remarkable, plus they speak the same dialect. Orcas in different pods have different accents to each other, they would recognize her just from her accent, but still her mother is alive and well in that pod, as well as aunts, sisters, cousins. She could go in a pen which would be SOOO much bigger than what she lives in, and she could talk to them from the safety of that, people coud still come and give her food if she couldn’t learn to fish again. 40 years is not supposed to be elderly, whales in the wild live to be 90. She could even reproduce if she was let go soon. This is so ignorant. If you were in a jail cell, in solitary confinement, and brought out twice a day to walk around in front of a huge crowd, and then thrown back in your cell alone, wouldn’t you rather be upgraded to a luxery resort where you could interact with other people and live in comfort for the remainder of your life? She has earned over 160 million dollars for Miami Seaquarium so far, she has performed twice a day for 40 years, she has more than paid for her retirement.


  2. Come on people (the other posters), us anti caps don’t want to see her released, we want to RETIRE her to a SEA PEN where she could live out her days in peace.

    Please stop saying she cant be freed because she’d die.

    She cant be moved to another facility because most (including SeaWorld) have already said they don’t want her and would never take her in.

    Pamela – she does have a family (her mother is still alive) and the Southern Resident orca community is her family.