The Loneliest Whale Ever

Profile photo of kjohnson

Posted January 22, 2015 by Kim Johnson

This is Lolita. She is 20 feet long and weighs 7,000 pounds.

At only 4 years old, she was torn away from her family and ocean home during the largest capture of wild orcas in history.

lolita2©Terrell C. Newby, Ph.D.

Eighty orcas were corralled into sea pens, and seven were kidnapped from their ocean home and sold to marine parks as mere commodities.


For only $6,000, Lolita was sold to the Miami Seaquarium to be confined for human “entertainment.”

lolita4©Terrell C. Newby, Ph.D.

She is the sole survivor of the horrifying capture and has spent the past 44 years in the tiniest orca tank in the United States—a tank that also violates the Animal Welfare Act’s minimum size requirements.

New aerial photography shows Lolita in her cramped tank.

The tank has no shelter for Lolita to escape from the blistering Miami sun. Orcas who are confined to tanks that have crystal-clear water and little shade often experience painful sunburns and blistering.

Orcas in captivity are sometimes covered with black zinc oxide to prevent sunburn, but the substance has reportedly also been used to cover up painful blisters on the skin of orcas who have already been sunburned.

With no mental, physical, or emotional stimulation, Lolita spends her days floating sluggishly. She currently shares her tiny tank with a few dolphins but has no orca companions. Her former orca tankmate, Hugo, committed suicide after repeatedly smashing his head into the walls of the tank.

Repetitive harmful behavior is common, such as this orca banging his head on a landing platform at SeaWorld.

Repetitive harmful behavior is common, such as this orca banging his head on a landing platform at SeaWorld.

Held in a small barren tank with virtually no opportunity to engage in any natural behavior, Lolita exhibits abnormal repetitive behavior, such as bobbing her head:

whale bobbing head

Or floating listlessly:

 orca whale floating

Humans have been profiting off Lolita’s misery for 44 years.

Isn’t that enough?

She is not ours to stand on …

… to pose on top of …

… to ride …

… to force to perform …

… to confine as a prisoner …

whale orca miami seaquarium

But there is hope that Lolita’s time spent enslaved at the Miami Seaquarium could come to an end.

Her family, the Southern Resident orca population, is classified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Marine Fisheries Service has finally agreed that Lolita should also be included in the (ESA) listing. PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Orca Network, and two concerned individuals believe that confining Lolita to a small, shallow, and barren concrete tank—where she has been alone, unable to dive, forage, or carry out any natural behavior–violates the ESA, and have announced they intend to sue the Miami Seaquarium on behalf of Lolita and they are seeking her freedom from the facility. PETA is pushing for Lolita to be released from the Miami Seaquarium and returned to her home waters in a coastal sanctuary!

You can help Lolita!

We’ll keep you posted on what happens! While you’re waiting for updates on Lolita’s story, tell Palace Entertainment (Miami Seaquarium’s owner) to give Lolita her freedom and immediately release her to a coastal sanctuary that can provide her with a more natural environment.
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  • 162 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    I will no longer support Sea World or other such organizations as I’ve become aware of how inhumane it is to confine these animals. This is not entertainment; this is abuse! These animals have no choice and we need to speak up and do something. Do your part and speak out and boycott these parks!

  • Profile photo of sammimartin

    165 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    No animal should have to suffer in these conditions, especially not for 44 years. #SaveLolita

  • 303 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]



  • 306 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    We have to stop this.

  • 307 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    set her free ..lets see you live in this the smallest whale tank in the world…. if its not fitting for a human its not fitting for a whale..freedom for lolita

  • 309 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    We must help set her free. I think she deserved the chance of being happy in the sanctuary, Set her free now!!!

  • 310 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Boycott these aquariums that exploit the animals that belong in the ocean & are not there as amusement /entertainment for humans! It’s diabolical to keep these huge mammals in captivity!

  • Profile photo of JoannaRamos

    314 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Please set this beautiful majestic creature free!!
    She deserves to live in her home with her family instead of living in a rank, and being abused.

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