POLL: Should Orcas and Dolphins be freed from all Seaquariums?

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Animal advocates have been fighting for years to free Lolita, a lone at the Miami Seaquarium, and now they’re getting some additional support from city officials.

Lolita was once a wild and free member of the southern resident killer whales who live in the Pacific Northwest, but she was taken for public display in the notoriously brutal Penn Cove roundups that took place in the 1970s.

She has since spent almost 50 years at the Miami Seaquarium in the oldest and smallest tank in North America, and she’s been alone there since 1980 as the last surviving southern resident in captivity.

Her advocates have worked tirelessly on her behalf and even though she was officially included in the species listing that protects her wild relatives, she’s continued to languish in her illegally small tank.


In an effort to help, the Miami Beach City Commission just voted unanimously on a resolution introduced by Mayor Philip Levine urging the Miami Seaquarium to release her from captivity into the care of the Orca Network and return her to her home waters.

Even though the resolution is symbolic, it doesn’t legally compel the Miami Seaquarium to release her, it is still a hopeful sign, and it’s certainly going to help keep the pressure on.

The Orca Network has an extensive retirement plan in place that’s been ready and waiting for her for years. The plan involves relocating her to a sea pen off the coast of Washington where she will be able to feel the current and communicate with her family. Lolita is from the L-pod and, and according to the Orca Network, she still calls out in the unique language used only by her family members.

“There’s every indication that Lolita remembers her family,” Howard Garrett, cofounder of the Orca Network, told the Miami New Times. “She still uses the calls, a unique set of whistles, that her family used to communicate when she was growing up. Even now, virtually every night, she calls to them.”

It’s ultimately hoped that she will be able to fully return to the wild and reintegrate with her family, however, if she is unwilling, or unable, they have vowed to provide care for her for the remainder of her life.

The Miami Seaquarium is, unsurprisingly, opposed to releasing her, continuing to argue it poses a significant risk, but Garrett countered, “There is no point in the plan where there is significant risk that cannot be avoided or seen and we will do all of that.”

We can hope continuing to keep pressure on will help compel the Miami Seaquarium to do the right thing for Lolita before it’s too late.

For more on how to help, check out the Orca Network. For more on how to help support efforts to ensure Lolita has a family and home to return to, check out the Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative, Center for Whale Research and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

This article was first published by Care2.com on 27 Oct 2017.

We invite you to share your opinion whether Orcas and Dolphins should be freed from all Seaquariums? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should Orcas and Dolphins be freed from all Seaquariums?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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Lorrie Moore Maringo

Build tanks on the ocean edge. If the dolphins want to stay they will, if not they can jump out.

Rikki Salty

ridiculous, stop forcing these creatures to perform, its sickening, put them back into the wild where they BELONG!

Marg Buckholtz
Marg Buckholtz

This intense confinement of wild creatures is certainly an abuse.

Angela Hannington

You can’t do it now. Some have been in captivity since they were calves.

Donna Errickson-Roberts


Lisa Marie Maley DeFreitas

Yes, for sure. Long over due.

Charles Wayne Tesh


Jean Daniels

We shouldn’t have prisons (zoos, seaquariums) for any animals or fish.

Norma Hurt

land slide all yeses.

Kimberly Jane Rodgers

It depends on how old they were when they brought them there, if they’ve been there most of there lives, they won’t how to take care of themselves out in the ocean, … maybe they should be in a Sanctuary for orcas and Dolphins ❤️

Maggie Calkins

done and of course YES


Honestly — how much MORE of a “risk” is it to this whale than the treatment shes had to endure alone at that Seaquarium? This creature deserves to have a few years close by her family even if she cannot be returned to the wild. Seems to me with the wishes of the people who know her & have heard of her this place should pay attention! This kind of captivity is just wrong!

Cindy A Kreiman
Cindy A Kreiman


Chandra Kulupana

Voted YES & shared