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Lolita was taken from her family when she was just 4 years old.

Handed over to the Miami Seaquarium for $6,000, she was forced into a life of captivity and made to perform day after day for the next 45 years. According to marine welfare watchdog organization Sea World of Hurt [1], Lolita is now the only surviving member of the pod of 90 orcas she once belonged to.

This beautiful creature's existence was marginalized, quite literally, as Lolita has been confined to one of the smallest tanks in the United States. Measuring merely 35 feet wide, the cramped environment fails to meet any requirements of the Animal Welfare Act set up nearly 15 years before her tragic capture off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. It's been more than two and a half decades since Lolita has even seen another orca, and as the Dodo reports [2], her declining health is an obvious sign of mistreatment.

As if being slathered with zinc oxide to prevent sunburn in the unnaturally clear waters, and forced to allow seaquarium staff to ride on her for entertainment, Lolita has been called "the loneliest orca in the world," and it's likely the isolation has contributed in no small way to her mounting physical issues.

"[Lolita] has been diagnosed with a pterygium, also called 'surfer's eye,'" writes Dr. Pedro Javier Gallego Reyes, veterinarian and cofounder of marine biology association Odyssea. "This is caused by excessive exposure to UV radiation [and] leads to discomfort, and can cause a significant alteration in visual function."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [3] has included Lolita, also known as Tokitae, in a list of endangered species, although this designation has done little to convince the Miami Seaquarium to release her. NOAA maintains that plans to move or release Lolita would require a permit from NOAA Fisheries and rigorous scientific review. Furthermore, "Previous attempts to release captive killer whales and dolphins have often been unsuccessful and some have ended tragically with the death of the released animal," the administration asserts.

Were the ailing orca freed from captivity, marine biologist Ken Balcomb has posited a "Comprehensive Retirement Plan" for Lolita [4]. The proposed system would help acclimate her back to the Pacific Northwest by way of an unconfined natural seawater pen in the Greater Puget Sound she could freely traverse.

There is no excuse for the continued imprisonment and forced exhibition of orcas within the United States. Tell the Eastern Regional Director of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Office of the Inspector General that Lolita must be retired to her native habitat in the Pacific Northwest immediately!

Sign Here

Dear Eastern Regional Director of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Office of the Inspector General,

The continued imprisonment of orcas within the United States is in blatant disregard for the laws of this country, not the least of which were set forth by the Animal Welfare Act in 1966. Sadly, one of the victims of this ignorance has been suffering for more than 45 years.

Since she was taken from her family off the coast of the Pacific Northwest at just 4 years old, Lolita has bee slathered with zinc oxide to prevent sunburn in the unnaturally clear waters of the Miami Seaquarium, and forced, day in and day out, to allow seaquarium staff to ride on her for entertainment.

Excessive exposure to UV radiation has led to a severe case of pterygium, and isolation from any other orcas for the last 26 years has earned Lolita the tragic moniker of "the loneliest orca in the world."

Lolita's tragic life story is a publicly acknowledged example of the many changes that need to be made in the aquatic entertainment industry. And, although aging and ailing, there is yet hope for her and others.

Marine biologist Ken Balcomb has posited a "Comprehensive Retirement Plan" for Lolita, which could safely and easily ensure her transition from the Miami Seaquarium to her home near Greater Puget Sound. Balcomb's plan was published in 1995, and remains a solid course of freedom for this beautiful creature.

I urge you to take action and demand the release of Lolita back into the wild. What little life she has left is rapidly wasting away in confinement. Entertainment founded on cruelty is not entertainment at all, and to ignore the protections promised in the Animal Welfare Act in favor of such cruelty is a gross miscarriage of both our country's laws and belief system.


Petition Signatures

Nov 19, 2017 Lois Freeman
Nov 19, 2017 federica bracciotti
Nov 19, 2017 Roy Hunt
Nov 19, 2017 Stacey Govito
Nov 19, 2017 Elaine Alfaro
Nov 19, 2017 Dominique Giloteaux
Nov 19, 2017 Mladen Nanic
Nov 19, 2017 Drazen Bukovec
Nov 19, 2017 Delimir Papic
Nov 19, 2017 Suzana Grozaj
Nov 19, 2017 Michelle Blackley
Nov 18, 2017 Michelle Anthony
Nov 18, 2017 Christine Zimmerman
Nov 18, 2017 Hilde Dewey
Nov 18, 2017 Frances Borges
Nov 18, 2017 Natasha Varner This is beyond heartbreaking. Please do the right thing for this poor social creature. We can't keep treating animals this way, it's abusive, they're wild and deserve to be free.
Nov 18, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Nov 18, 2017 Kathie Mudge
Nov 18, 2017 deborah Nettleingham
Nov 18, 2017 Janis Kindred
Nov 18, 2017 Jack Mahrt III
Nov 18, 2017 Kay Bethea
Nov 18, 2017 Jack Mahrt Jr
Nov 18, 2017 Susan Sage Can we please stop forcing these beautiful mammals to live in unnatural confinement! Leave them out in the ocean in the first place and please give Lolita more space to live out her remaining years!
Nov 18, 2017 Tammie Adler
Nov 18, 2017 Tomi McDonald
Nov 18, 2017 Idelle Mahrt
Nov 18, 2017 Jack Mahrt
Nov 18, 2017 Cecilia Pipitone-Oliveto
Nov 18, 2017 Penny Hanton
Nov 18, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Nov 18, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Nov 18, 2017 Thea Stevens
Nov 18, 2017 Bethanie C.
Nov 18, 2017 Joy Schochet It is barbaric and inhumane to keep a large marine mammal under isolated and cramped conditions. It is well past time to let Lolita go. Animals are not entertainment objects for humans, they are sentient creatures with needs of their own.
Nov 18, 2017 mauro torelli
Nov 18, 2017 Rhiannon Young
Nov 18, 2017 Alicia Calloway
Nov 18, 2017 Joanne Birnberg Give this animal her well-deserved freedom!
Nov 18, 2017 Julia Phillips Free this poor Orca before she dies
Nov 18, 2017 Heidi Kausch
Nov 18, 2017 Daniele Boucher
Nov 18, 2017 Laurie Bynum
Nov 18, 2017 Jennifer Jackson
Nov 18, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Nov 18, 2017 June Curley
Nov 18, 2017 Anna Hart
Nov 18, 2017 (Name not displayed) “The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”

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