Let me introduce to you Lolita.
She is the last survivor of more than 30 orcas who were captured in the waters off Washington State in 1970.
She has lived in the smallest and oldest orca tank in the world for the last 51 years. She has been in complete solitude since her tankmate, Hugo, died in 1980 from a brain aneurysm caused by repeatedly ramming his head into the tank’s wall.
That means she has not had any contact with another orca for 41 years.
Lolita is an animal just like you and I. She has skin, a beating heart, a brain and all the vital organs we have. In fact, orca’s brains are the second largest on the planet. That means more nerves with more pain receptors.
Lolita feels physical pain when she has to suppress her innate instinct to use her powerful muscles to dash through the ocean’s waves at 34mph. In the wild orcas swim up to 40 miles and dive 500 feet deep into the ocean every single day.
According to Peta she feels physical pain when she is repeatedly “raked” by the dolphins confined with her, who her species is incompatible with. They scrape her skin with their teeth, sometimes on a weekly basis. In fact, she feels physical pain from all the damage to her body that has been documented, including scratches, blisters, bruises, cuts and bites.
She feels physical pain from her perpetual exposure to the sun (since her tank has no roof) which causes her skin to burn, crack and even bleed. She also feels physical pain from her eye inflammation, also exacerbated by the sun’s radiation.
Lolita also feels emotional and mental pain. Orcas are highly sociable mammals that are supposed to live in large, life-long communities.
She felt emotional pain when she was torn away from her family at the delicate age of 4. She felt fear when she was herded into a net by the deafening bangs of explosives. She felt desperation and panic as she looked for a way out, begging for her family to save her with “disturbing and deafening” squeals, clicks and screams that could be heard for miles. She felt abandoned and lost when her family, who comfortingly crowded around her net, had to watch their baby be airlifted onto a boat.
Of the 7 orca calves seized that day Lolita is the only one who survived.
Besides the profound anguish and grief her capture must have caused her, she also feels acute mental distress every day.
Her sonar waves that are meant to bounce off objects in her vast ocean environment to help her navigate now simply bounce off the concrete walls of her tank, driving her to insanity.
She shows every sign of zoochosis (obsessive and repetitive behaviour) there is: head-bobbing, a tense body, an open mouth, slapping her tail and fins, jaw dropping, wide eyes, unusual vocalisations, sinking under the surface and even gnawing the metal gates of her tank to the point that her sensitive nerve tissue is exposed, causing her unimaginable tooth pain.
Lolita is given medication every single day. She is administered antibiotics, antifungals, steroids, hormones, medication to treat ulcers and even narcotics to suppress her physical pain and mental distress.
In captivity animals are essentially forced to become couch potatoes. They can’t exercise, they have no mental stimulation and they have no contact with their families. Does our amusement and entertainment really justify such suffering?
It is up to us, their fellow sentient animals, to recognise the responsibility we have in not allowing this living hell to continue.
By signing PETA’s petition you will show your support in urging both Miami Seaquarium and sister-company Marineland Antibes to retire all their orcas to seaside sanctuaries to give them the chance to have even just a glimpse of a natural life.
Sign the petition: https://support.peta.org/page/1107/action/1
Orcas belong here: