Lolita Update #125 - Lolita performs again    

News, Views, EventsMarch 12, 2011


Lolita rebounds!


We have a first person report that on Thursday Lolita performed in a scheduled show.  She breached vigorously and seemed responsive to signals. The trainer was able to ride her repeatedly around the tank.  


The park has not released any details on her condition or treatment, except to say she was given antibiotics, but it appears that Lolita has successfully fought off a serious systemic infection. Antibiotics are routinely given to orcas with elevated white blood cell counts indicating major internal infections. In many cases the whales die anyway, but Lolita did not. After two weeks of intense day and night medical care and attention she bounced back.  


She'll now go back to spending nights alone in a concrete hole in a silent park, unless her infections flare up again. She has to be near death to get the attention she needs to live.


There is no protection from the midday sun in the whale stadium at the Seaquarium, a clear violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Instead they coat her with zinc oxide stained black to avoid being noticed.  


Section 3.103(3)(b) of the Animal Welfare Act - Protection from Weather and Direct Sunlight - requires that: 

 "Natural or artificial shelter which is appropriate for the species concerned, when the local climatic conditions are taken into consideration, shall be provided for all marine mammals kept outdoors to afford them protection from the weather or from direct sunlight.


 Today Orca Network sent a letter to:


Dr. Nicolette Petervary, VMD
Regional Animal Care Specialist
USDA, APHIS, Marketing and Regulatory Programs
Animal Care
920 Main Campus Drive Suite 200
Eastern Regional Office, Raleigh, NC. 27606

By Fax: 919-855-7123

We asked Dr. Petervary to conduct an inspection of the Seaquarium in regards to the lack of protection from the sun. Anyone can request an inspection, and if a lot of people do so they may feel obligated to inspect the park, which APHIS is required to do when there is evidence of a violation. 


Thank you for your concern for Lolita. 


Howard Garrett 

Susan Berta 

Orca Network  


Lolita's Retirement Plan



Lolita's baypen retirement center on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington


Lolita's path home 


The proposed bay pen for Lolita/Toki would be in Kanaka Bay on the west side of San Juan Island. Permission was once granted from the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island and would need to be requested again, transport would need to be arranged, professional care staff would be contracted, security, accommodations, fish supplies and a freezer, etc. would need to be managed. 


It's time to get her out of there and back home where she can live out her life in her native marine waters, with round the clock care and attention and the opportunity to vocalize with her family. Eventually, when she rebuilds her metabolic strength and stamina, she could swim out to visit with her family, and if the bonds of trust that unites her pod and matriline can be regained, she would have the freedom to swim away with them, or to return to the care station in the bay to stay with her human friends. The move would be perfectly safe and would leave the choice of how to live her life up to her.


The full proposal is available here

Quick Links

Lolita's bio:
Photo: Corrine Regan


Lolita was first named Tokitae when she was captured from her family in 1970. She has been on display at the Miami Seaquarium in Florida ever since. She is the last surviving orca of about 45 members of the Southern Resident community that were brutally captured and delivered for display in marine parks between 1965 and 1973.


She was about four years old when she last saw her family. She still lives in a tank that is that is only 35x80 feet, illegal according to the Animal Welfare Act. Lolita is about 7,500 pounds, 21 feet long and her tank is 18-20 feet deep.


Lolita performs two shows a day but between shows she shows signs of boredom and depression. Her tank mate, Hugo, killed himself in 1980 by hitting his head against the wall, Lolita hasn't seen another whale since!


A professional proposal has been designed to retire Lolita safely, with expert care in a protected cove near her family's usual summer foraging areas, where she was born and raised.


The full proposal to retire Lolita is available HERE . There is no significant risk at any stage of this retirement proposal, but there is extreme risk in her remaining at the marine park in Miami.