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August 6, 2011

Lolita in the tank she's been trapped in for 41 years

In just a few months, I will be turning 40 years old. When thinking of all the places I have been, all the different experiences I have had, all the fun, the joy, the laughter, the tears….I contemplate what life must be like for Lolita. I live in a fairly small house, at only 620 sq ft, and there isn’t one day that I don’t have an urge to go outside. Many days go by where I sit and think about Lolita, saying to myself What if? What if my house was empty and I had spent the last 40 years in this same space? What if I was never to see my family for the last 40 years? What if I was trapped here with nothing to do for the last 40 years? What if I was stuck in this little house with no human companionship for the last 40 years? What if several times a day people watched through the windows while I did acrobatic tricks in my little house for the last 40 years? I can’t even fathom What if? I would go crazy, completely out of my mind. This makes me wonder how Lolita has done this for 41 years. The inner strength she must have to continue to survive in that miniscule tank proves to me she has a will to live.

On August 8th, 2011, it will be 41 years since Lolita’s family was forced into Penn Cove, WA by means of speedboats and bombs like M80s. Lolita and over 80 of her family members were surrounded by nets and trapped while the youngsters were chosen for various marine parks. Lolita was one of the chosen ones at only 3-4 years old. She was kept in Penn Cove until September 24, 1970 when she was flown to Miami, FL and placed in an unnatural tank of water, scared and alone. Lolita was to become the “bride” of Hugo, a male orca the Miami Seaquarium purchased two years earlier.

For the next 10 years, Lolita and Hugo performed together until Hugo died from a brain aneurysm on March 4, 1980…..30 years ago! I think back to the What if? What if I lived in this little empty house for the last 30 years of my life without any human companionship. Orcas are known to be one of the most socially complex creatures on this planet. Resident orcas, like Lolita, live and breathe family. They do everything together. What if I was never able to give my mom a hug again? What if I never heard her voice again? Lolita has some Pacific White-Sided dolphin companions but it’s not the same for her. They are not her family. They don’t speak the same language. I’m sure Lolita and the dolphins have formed some sort of communication, but it would be like us communicating with a chimp. It’s just not the same, it’s not family.

Lolita does have an opportunity to see her mother again. An opportunity to hear her voice, see her family. An opportunity to feel the ocean tide on her body once again. An opportunity to be free, free from that tank, free from being an opportunity for people to be entertained. Lolita has a complete, detailed retirement plan that will give her a chance to experience what she was born onto this planet to experience. So many years have been lost but that doesn’t mean that the opportunity could not be given. It brings me back to think about, What if? A few years ago, Jaycee Dugard, was found after she had been missing for 18 years. From the age of 11 until she was found, she was kept in a backyard compound for years, many of which she was locked in a room alone. She had two children by her male kidnapper, both of which lived with her in the backyard compound. What if when Jaycee was recognized, she was not reunited with her family? What if she was told she had to stay in that backyard compound for the rest of her life? What if people said she couldn’t adjust to normal life? Nobody thought in that manner. She was immediately reunited with her mother and family. Why shouldn’t Lolita be given that same opportunity. The Miami Seaquarium owners say Lolita wouldn’t survive. There’s too much pollution in the water. She’s happy in her tank. Really? Did anyone think Jaycee Dugard was happy in that backyard compound? She was taken care of by her kidnappers. She was given food and things to do. But did that make her really happy?

Just because Lolita is not human does not mean she doesn’t feel. Orcas are highly, intelligent, sentient beings who are capable of feeling emotions, capable of feeling love and loss. Lolita has adapted to captivity for 41 years. There’s no reason why she couldn’t adapt to the wild once again. What is needed is supporters, people to take charge and push for Lolita’s retirement. Pressure needs to be made on the Seaquarium and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS). APHIS is the governing agency who oversees the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Besides the appalling fact that Lolita has been trapped at the Miami Seaquarium for 41 years, her tank is illegally sized according to the AWA. The fact that she doesn’t have another orca companion is illegal according to the AWA. The fact that she does not have any shade structure to protect her is illegal according to the AWA. Despite numerous complaints by concerned citizens, APHIS has done nothing to help Lolita’s situation. She needs you. Her family needs you. What if that wonderful person didn’t speak up for Jaycee Dugard and allowed her to continue to live in that backyard compound? Lolita needs you to be the one to speak up for her. Be her voice.

Several cities around the United States are holding demonstrations the week of Lolita’s capture date in 1970. If a city near you is listed below, be Lolita’s voice for a few hours. If your city is not listed, be Lolita’s voice in your city.


Please note that events are on different days throughout the week of August 7th.

AUGUST 7, 2011

WASHINGTON – Penn Cove, Coupeville, Whidbey Island

12 – 4pm – Begins with ceremonial cruise at capture sight in Penn Cove

For more information on the Washington event:!/event.php?eid=138022639550195

BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA – Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo CA

1 – 3:30 pm – Meet at the front entrance to park

For more information on the Bay Area event:!/event.php?eid=238585352828525

AUGUST 8, 2011

MIAMI, FL – Third Annual Walk for Lolita

12 – 5 pm – Meet at the first parking lot after the bridge on Rickenbacker Causeway

For more information on the Miami event:!/event.php?eid=169223919816132

AUGUST 13, 2011


1 – 3pm –  Corner of 4th and Pine near the Water Fountain

For more information on the Seattle event:!/event.php?eid=190472254345956


1 – 3 pm – In front of the Miami Seaquarium

For more information on the Miami event:


12 – 2 pm

For more information on the Boston event:


12 – 3 pm – Riverside Park (in front of the big fountain)

For more information on the Wisconsin event:!/event.php?eid=119284311501596


1 – 3pm – 198 Central Avenue, White Plains, NY

For more information on the New York event:

Contact: Molly Rickles  –


1 – 3pm – Meet at Harkins Bricktown Cinemas

For more information on the Oklahoma event:

AUGUST 20, 2011


1 – 3pm River & Osborne

For more information:



11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2011 11:39 pm

    “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”
    ~Alice Walker

    “Where there is a mind, there are feelings such as pain, pleasure, and joy. No sentient being wants pain: all wants happiness instead.” – Dalai Lama

    “We are all animals of this planet. We are all creatures. And nonhuman animals experience pain sensations just like we do. They too are strong, intelligent, industrious, mobile, and evolutional. They too are capable of growth and adaptation. Like us, firsthand foremost, they are earthlings. And like us, they are surviving. Like us they also seek their own comfort rather than discomfort. And like us they express degrees of emotion. In short like us, they are alive.”- Joaquin Phoenix | quote from EARTHLINGS

  2. Rachel permalink
    August 7, 2011 8:00 pm

    Thank you for being Lolita’s voice. I think filing the complaint regarding the APHIS’s incompetence was a great start. Now, we have to find a way to attract media attention to the story. The USDA needs to be pressed for answers.

  3. Diane McNally permalink
    August 9, 2011 4:56 am

    Thank you WMTINY. You bring the issue so close to home. It’s hard to refute your thinking (not that I’d want to!). Referring to Jaycee’s ordeal and her return to freedom is a connection I never made. Thank you again. This is brilliant and heartfelt, as usual for WMTINY.

  4. JayCkat permalink
    March 10, 2012 5:50 pm

    But what does “Retire” mean…. it send shivers down my spine. I hope it is not the bullet in the head kind of retirement plan.

    Umm… and I don’t think re adaptation is all that easy. In similar vein my reason are below…

    Put it simple, you are 3yr when you were kidnapped by aliens. Held captive for nearly 40 years and in isolation for nearly 30 years.

    Then out of the blue at the age of 42, you get thrown out on to the street of Paris. You don’t know anyone. You can barely speak a few words of English from the dim memories of your childhood, but that doesn’t help one bit as every person you meet seems to speak a completely different language.

    You don’t have any employable skills. So it is tough getting a job, feeding yourself is difficult if not impossible. Maybe the aliens can teach you… but the best they can do is throw you a piece of paper, a pencil and a random book. It is left to you to somehow educate yourself… maybe you could puzzle out how to read, write, later sit for the bar exams and become a successful lawyer. Yeah right. Who are you kidding? You would be lucky to be a menial worker. A successful career woman, you sadly will not be.

    30 years of isolation has left you socially awkward. Your social graces are next to zero. Cavewoman is the most polite description other people can give you. You talk to you self and spend hours ranting about alien abductions and the things they did to you. People call you crazy, you think they might be right.

    To make matters worst, when you do meet the other people, you simply can not integrate yourself into society. You need a letter of introduction and perhaps a sponsor… something the aliens did not provide. Society as you have discovered is matrilineal and your mom would have been the person to introduce you to society outside you family.

    The best you can get is a peripheral place.. somewhere at the edge of society… the local bag woman who lives at the edge of town that every mother tells their child not to go near. Yup… thanks, you damn aliens

    Life is tough, you are at the bottom of society. But there is one small bright spark, there is the singles club. So what if you are called a 41 year old cougar? Maybe just maybe there is a time for love. And even if he won’t stick around, maybe he could leave you something to remember him by. A baby of your own to love and love you back would fill the lonely hole in your heart… but life is so difficult. The hours are so long… day care is almost out the question….

    • March 20, 2012 5:19 am

      The plan is not to just thrown Lolita back into the ocean and say “You’re on your own!” She would be transported to a bay pen in the ocean near where her pod frequents. There are hundreds of individuals that are willing to help Lolita successfully reintegrate back into the wild or live the remainder of her life in the bay pen. Why shouldn’t be able to retire? Why should she have to work until she dies? Why couldn’t she reacclimate? Orcas are highly intelligent social beings who can adapt and overcome. When Lolita was placed in captivity, the majority of society didn’t care if she couldn’t acclimate to her environment. Nobody gave second thought that she didn’t know the language of her new “companions”. Nobody cared if she was able to integrate herself into her new society. But mention that Lolita should have the opportunity to be placed back where she was taken from and there’s an uproar. It’s ridiculous. I mean, if you were abducted by aliens at age 3 and 40 years later you are given the opportunity to go back to your family, you would seriously choose to stay with the aliens? Or would you rather have nobody continue to look for you or try to reunite you with your family?

  5. March 19, 2012 6:06 pm

    Can you please show your sources, because in my class we are making case studies regarding the sea world controversy. I would like to include this article, however I need sources to back this topic.

    Thank you

  6. June 23, 2013 5:45 pm

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to
    say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  7. July 2, 2013 8:34 am

    This is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very accurate info… Thanks for sharing
    this one. A must read article!

  8. Trish permalink
    November 5, 2013 3:41 am

    Everyone please we need to get her out of there I can’t believe all these years nothing can be done its 2013 these some of these post were years ago . Poor Lolita she needs to be freed!!!the human race is so disgusting to allow this all for greed!


  1. 41 Years of Captivity | #MiamiSeaquarium «

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