There’s long been a public push to free Miami Seaquarium star Lolita.
The killer whale was first captured in the 1970s and is a major attraction for the aquarium. In fact, Lolita has been the biggest star for the Seaquarium.
Now activists are petitioning to get Lolita protected under the Endangered Species Act. If that petition is successful, Lolita would be retired from performing.
A petition is trying to get Lolita the same status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that covers all other Southern Resident orcas, meaning she could be retired from performing.
The activists, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and PETA, want Lolita freed and returned to the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest where she is a member of the L pod. Since 2005, the U.S. government has listed these orcas as endangered with their wild population numbers about 85.
Lolita is the oldest killer whale in captivity. The Seaquarium’s general manager, Andrew Hertz, issued a statement saying there was no scientific support for releasing Lolita back to the wild.
“She is healthy and thriving in her permanent home where she shares her habitat with Pacific white-sided dolphins,’’ the statement said. “Moving Lolita in any way, whether to a new pool, a sea pen or to the open waters of the Pacific Northwest, would be an experiment. And it is a risk with her life that we are not willing to take.”
Photo credit: Seaquarium