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Lolita the Orca; Facts, Legal Issues and How To Get Her Home

September 1, 2010


Photo courtesy of Colleen Gorman

“It is simply her remarkable spirit that has kept her alive this long”

Name: Lolita

Prior name: Tokitae – which means ‘”nice day, pretty colors” in Chinook

Nickname: affectionately known as “Toki”

Species: (Orcinus orca) Killer Whale, also called Orca

Approx. size: 21 feet long

Approx. wt: 6,000 lbs

Approx. age: 43 yrs

Location: Miami Seaquarium (MSQ), Miami, FL, a subsidiary of Wometco, a privately held company.

Family: Lolita’s birthright is the L25 matriline of the “L” pod of the Southern Resident orca community in the Pacific Northwest. Lolita’s mother is believed to be Ocean Sun, approx. age 82, who still resides with Lolita’s family swimming freely in the open waters where Lolita was captured. Her capture occurred right before implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act which helps protect her family members from being taken, although loopholes still exist in these laws. In 2005 the Southern Resident orcas were listed as endangered species. Because Lolita was caught ‘pre-act’, the powers-that-be excluded her from the status of endangered.    More on Lolita’s Life before Capture: HERE

Captured: August 8, 1970 in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, Washington State. Lolita is the last surviving orca of 45 members of the Southern Resident community that were captured and delivered for display in marine parks between 1965 and 1973. At least 13 members of her family were killed during the brutal captures.    More on Lolita’s Capture: HERE

Lolita’s Life at Miami Seaquarium: Lolita arrived at Miami Seaquarium on September 24, 1970. She was kept separated from her future tank-mate orca Hugo until June 2, 1971.  They performed together for 9 years until Hugo’s death in 1980 after repeatedly bashing his head into the walls of the pool, in what many believe to be an act of suicide. (Click HERE for more information on Hugo’s death including Necropsy Report). After 12 years of service – they simply dropped his body in the Miami dump. Lolita has been alone (aside from a few dolphins) for 30 years, performing tricks for tourists, two shows a day. Since 1970 Lolita has resided in what is the smallest and oldest orca tank in the United States. The tank is merely one-and-a-half-times her size, has garnered numerous safety violations, and does not meet US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Regulations. Now a young adult at about 43 years old, Lolita has been a “captive” entertainer for 40 years. Only Corky at Sea World in San Diego, captured in 1969, has been in captivity longer. The Gulf oil spill caused by oil giant BP is now threatening the captive marine mammals at MSQ, including Lolita. MSQ and the USDA and APHIS are not prepared to deal with this crisis.    More on Lolita’s Life Today: HERE …and the BP oil spill contamination: HEREand eye-witness visits to Lolita HERE.

UPDATE- October 25, 2013: Not much has changed for Lolita since we first posted this information in September of 2010. Brought to us by our friends at the Orca Network and Dr. Ingrid Visser of Orca Research Trust is the following 8-1/2 minute documentary “A Day in the Life of Lolita, the Performing Orca” produced by Daniel Azarian. It follows a visit to Miami Seaquarium by Ingrid in the summer of 2013 and outlines much of what is contained in this report. It is superbly produced and is a “must-watch” for all who are concerned about Lolita’s welfare. Thank you Orca Network, Ingrid and Daniel for an incredible documentary.

Captivity continues without enforcement of numerous Animal Welfare Act Regulation Violations:

  • Perimeter Fence & Protection from Abuse and Harassment: Lolita’s pool does not meet the requirements to keep animals and unauthorized people out nor does it provide protection from abuse and harassment by the viewing public. (see more below)
  • Protection from Weather and Direct Sunlight: Lolita is not afforded protection from the weather or from direct sunlight to benefit her health and well-being. (see more below)
  • Space Requirements for Orca:The most egregious violation which has not been enforced is that of Lolita’s pool size, comparable to that of a bathtub for a marine mammal of her size. (see more below)
  • Housing with Compatible Animals: Lolita has not been in the company of another orca since 1980. This highly social animal is subjected to this solitude with the unfounded belief that her dolphin tank-mates are an acceptable replacement for a member of her own species. (see more below)
  • Emergency Contingency Plans: The wellbeing of Lolita and the other marine mammals at MSQ are now being threatened by the Gulf oil spill and MSQ and APHIS have neglected to enforce Emergency Contingency Plan requirements. (see more below)
  • Pool Environment Enhancements: Non-food objects are utilized in Lolita’s pool for stimulation which may subject her to injury through ingestion. (see more below)
  • Hurricane Threats with no Plan to Protect Marine Life & Contamination of Biscayne Bay (see more below)

Miami Seaquarium General Information and Owner Information (see more below)

Campaigns to Retire Lolita to a SeaPen (see more below)



Animal Welfare Act 9 C.F.R. PART 3—STANDARDS

Subpart E—Specifications for the Humane Handling, Care, Treatment, and Transportation of Marine Mammals

Section 3.103 (3)(c) Perimeter fence

“On and after May 17, 2000, all outdoor housing facilities must be enclosed by a perimeter fence that is of sufficient height to keep animals and unauthorized persons out. Fences less than 8 feet high for polar bears or less than 6 feet high for other marine mammals must be approved in writing by the Administrator. The fence must be constructed so that it protects marine mammals by restricting animals and unauthorized persons from going through it or under it and having contact with the marine mammals, and so that it can function as a secondary containment system for the animals in the facility when appropriate. The fence must be of sufficient distance from the outside of the primary enclosure to prevent physical contact between animals inside the enclosure and animals or persons outside the perimeter fence. Such fences less than 3 feet in distance from the primary enclosure must be approved in writing by the Administrator.”

Lolita’s tank definitely does not have a 6 foot perimeter fence around it. Anyone could reach their hands over the tank or jump in it if they really wanted. I don’t think a trainer would have time to stop it. Comparing to SW and Six Flags, they all have the high glass type enclosures that one cannot just reach or climb over easily. So per the law, the APHIS administrator would have had to approve of the fence. So the question would be, was Lolita’s perimeter fence approved by the Administrator?

Photo courtesy of Shelby

3.101 (2) Facilities, general

“All marine mammals must be provided with protection from abuse and harassment by the viewing public by the use of a sufficient number of uniformed or readily identifiable employees or attendants to supervise the viewing public, or by physical barriers, such as fences, walls, glass partitions, or distance, or any combination of these.”

This would also bring the perimeter fence into play since there is no physical barrier tall enough to protect Lolita from the viewing public. Looking at old pictures of Lolita and Hugo, there was a much higher fence around their tank at one point that was over 6 feet, but I don’t know when it was changed.


Section 3.103(3)(b) Shelter

“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.”

Lolita’s tank has no shade structure at all. As seen by the image from Google Earth, her tank is fully exposed to the sun. The only way she can get shade is by moving around the tank as the position of the sun changes. Lolita also has no protection from the Miami hurricanes. Miami is known to be an area in the United States that is prone to hurricanes.

Graphics courtesy of Wendy

Now in 2008, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was found in “Indirect non-compliance” of Section 3.103. The inspection report reads:

“Shouka stadium back area: there are no shade structures in the three pools in the back of the facility. Shade structures need to be added over or around the pools. This is necessary for the protection from the sunlight for the health and well-being of the animals.”

My question is does APHIS consider the stadium seats around Lolita’s tank and the barrier wall behind the medical pool her shade structures.  If you look at the picture of Shouka’s stadium below, there is nothing at all around the 3 pools in the back. Shouka’s stadium is similar to Lolita’s with the stadium seats being shaded (except for the front rows), the main pool is exposed to the sun and in between the main pool and back tanks is a high wall that goes across the back of the tank the length of the pool.

Yes, the stadium cover and wall structure provide shelter throughout the day to protect Lolita from direct sunlight, but there are periods of the day where those structures do not provide protection from direct sunlight. Is it considered by APHIS that the periods of the day when the tank is fully exposed to the sun are insignificant since there are parts of the day when Lolita is provided shade as the sun’s position changes?

Graphics courtesy of Wendy


3.104 Space Requirements

“(a) General. Marine mammals must be housed in primary enclosures that comply with the minimum space requirements prescribed by this part. These enclosures must be constructed and maintained so that the animals contained within are provided sufficient space, both horizontally and vertically, to be able to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement, in or out of the water. (An exception to these requirements is provided in §3.110(b) for isolation or separation for medical treatment and/or medical training.) Enclosures smaller than required by the standards may be temporarily used for nonmedical training, breeding, holding, and transfer purposes. If maintenance in such enclosures for nonmedical training, breeding, or holding is to last longer than 2 weeks, such extension must be justified in writing by the attending veterinarian on a weekly basis. If maintenance in such enclosures for transfer is to last longer than 1 week, such extension must be justified in writing by the attending veterinarian on a weekly basis. Any enclosure that does not meet the minimum space requirement for primary enclosures (including, but not limited to, medical pools or enclosures, holding pools or enclosures, and gated side pools smaller than the minimum space requirements) may not be used for permanent housing purposes. Rotating animals between enclosures that meet the minimum space requirements and enclosures that do not is not an acceptable means of complying with the minimum space requirements for primary enclosures.”

“(1)(i) The required minimum horizontal dimension (MHD) of a pool for Group I cetaceans shall be 7.32 meters (24.0 feet) or two times the average adult length of the longest species of Group I cetacean housed therein (as measured in a parallel or horizontal line, from the tip of its upper jaw, or from the most anterior portion of the head in bulbous headed animals, to the notch in the tail fluke8 ), whichever is greater; except that such MHD measurement may be reduced from the greater number by up to 20 percent if the amount of the reduction is added to the MHD at the 90-degree angle and if the minimum volume and surface area requirements are met based on an MHD of 7.32 meters (24.0 feet) or two times the average adult length of the longest species of Group I cetacean housed therein, whichever is greater.”

The minimum horizontal dimension for Lolita’s tank would be 48 feet, which APHIS agrees. APHIS claims that Lolita’s tank is 60 x 80 feet, not including the medical pool in the back. Lolita is around 22 feet long.  By APHIS claiming Lolita’s tank is 60 feet across from the edge of the pool to the trainer’s platform would mean you could line Lolita up in a straight row approximately 3 times to equal the 60 feet distance. Clearly, this is impossible.

Photo courtesy of Shelby

Per measurements taken from Google Earth of Lolita’s tank, the measurement between the edge of the pool to the trainer’s platform is approximately 35 feet, which is 25 feet less than APHIS’s measurement of 60 feet and 13 feet smaller than what the law requires.

Graphics courtesy of Wendy

A response from Google Earth regarding the accuracy of the straight line measurements is pending. Taking a measurement of the length of the tank APHIS states is 80 feet concluded Google Earth’s measurements to be quite accurate as there is no dispute that this length of Lolita’s tank is 80 feet.

Adding in the medical pool in the back of Lolita’s tank, which measures approximately 25 feet would coincide with the 60 foot measurement APHIS states. Yet APHIS states they did not include the medical pool in their measurements of 60 x 80 feet and the use of the medical pool does not diminish the size of the main pool.

Graphics courtesy of Wendy

On December 14, 1995 the Miami Herald published an article “Lolita’s tank is big enough, feds say”.

“Lolita the Killer Whale has enough room in her tank at Miami Seaquarium, federal animal-protection officials ruled Wednesday. A week after re-measuring Lolita’s pool in response to persistent complaints from an animal activist, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the tank exceeds minimum legal space requirements. “There is adequate space,”said Dr. Richard Watkins, the USDA’s southeast regional director for animal care….“
So where is the documentation from USDA’s measurements of Lolita’s tank? How was the tank measured?


Section 3.109 Separation

“Marine mammals, whenever known to be primarily social in the wild, must be housed in their primary enclosure with at least one compatible animal of the same or biologically related species, except when the attending veterinarian, in consultation with the husbandry/training staff, determines that such housing is not in the best interest of the marine mammal’s health or well-being. However, marine mammals that are not compatible must not be housed in the same enclosure. Marine mammals must not be housed near other animals that cause them unreasonable stress or discomfort or interfere with their good health. Animals housed separately must have a written plan, approved by the attending veterinarian, developed in consultation with the husbandry/training staff, that includes the justification for the length of time the animal will be kept separated or isolated, information on the type and frequency of enrichment and interaction, if appropriate, and provisions for periodic review of the plan by the attending veterinarian. Marine mammals that are separated for nonmedical purposes must be held in facilities that meet minimum space requirements as outlined in §3.104.”

Lolita has been without the companionship of another orca for 30 years. APHIS states the Miami Seaquarium meets AWA regulations requiring that social marine mammals, such as orcas, be housed with at least one compatible animal of the same or biologically related species. Lolita has shared her tank for many years with Pacific white-sided dolphins that are, like Lolita, cetacean mammals.

Lolita is a member of the Southern Resident Community of orcas in the Pacific Northwest. The Southern Residents are a social structure of orcas consisting of generations of family. There is no known Southern Resident orca leaving from their pod to live with a pod of Pacific White Sided Dolphins.

Howard Garrett of Orca Network also stated “in 2009 a paper was published proposing that the species Orcinus orca be divided into several new species, based on the observed fidelity and cohesion of distinct interrelated family groups. See: LeDuc, Richard G., Kelly M. Robertson, and Robert L. Pitman (2008). Mitochondrial sequence divergence among Antarctic killer whale ecotypes is consistent with multiple species Biol. Lett. (2008) 4, 426–429. Link: HERE

“The congruence of these lines of evidence suggests that the divergence between these types represents a species boundary. Given this fidelity and cohesion within extended family groups, now universally accepted within the scientific community, the only compatible animal for Lolita would be a member of the Southern resident community. Based on their shared calls, Hugo was probably also a member of the Southern residents. Since 1980 the Seaquarium and USDA have no basis in stating that Lolita is housed with a compatible animal, or any other cetacean would be a compatible animal, except another member of her genetic and cultural community.”

Six Flags again was found in “Indirect non-compliance” on May & June of 2008. The inspection report states:

“The orca is single housed. They are using a dolphin as a companion animal but they are separated but next to each other the majority of the time. This situation is being reviewed by USDA APHIS.”

Is the Miami Seaquarium to be entrusted to say that Lolita is not separated by gates from the dolphins the majority of the time? And the wording of APHIS stating “They are using a dolphin as a companion animal” sounds strange compared to their statement that the Miami Seaquarium meets Section 3.109 requirements because Lolita is housed with another cetacean.

In May of 2010, Colleen Gorman, an individual concerned for animal welfare gave an account of her visit to the Miami Seaquarium and documented the conditions of Lolita’s daily routine and the solitude of Lolita and her separation from her tank-mate dolphins who are often separated by gates dividing the main pool and medical pool. Colleen’s account can be found HERE.


Section 3.101 (4)(b) Facilities, general

“(b) Water and power supply. Reliable and adequate sources of water and electric power must be provided by the facility housing marine mammals. Written contingency plans must be submitted to and approved by the Deputy Administrator regarding emergency sources of water and electric power in the event of failure of the primary sources, when such failure could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to the good health and well-being of the marine mammals housed in the facility. Contingency plans must include, but not be limited to, specific animal evacuation plans in the event of a disaster and should describe back-up systems and/or arrangements for relocating marine mammals requiring artificially cooled or heated water. If the emergency contingency plan includes release of marine mammals, the plan must include provision for recall training and retrieval of such animals.”

This would require the Miami Seaquarium to have a written contingency plan regarding emergency sources of water and electric power in the event of a failure of the primary sources, when the failure could affect the health and well-being of a marine mammal. They are required to have a plan for whatever the circumstance may be that would cause a failure of their primary source of water and electrical. The oil spill threat of 2010 made the absence of a contingency plan extremely negligent on the behalf of the Seaquarium.

In July, 2010 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a 61- 80% chance that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would hit the Miami area in August. In addition to the oil, the chemical dispersant used to break up the oil, which is dangerous to the health of animal life, was to be included in the toxic mix approaching Miami waters as reported by the NOAA HERE.  Miami Seaquarium demonstrated they are not prepared to deal with any pending disaster.

Due to the possibility that contaminated water may still reach Miami, the public and by animal welfare organizations are still concerned for the safety and health of Miami Seaquarium’s wildlife. In addition to killer whale (orca) Lolita, the lives of 30 dolphins, 15 seals and sea lions, dozens of reptiles/fish, sea turtles, and at least eight manatees may be in peril. Built in the 1950’s, this marine mammal park relic uses an open water system, which feeds directly from Biscayne Bay filling its numerous performing animal tanks, including that of Lolita.

Andrew Hertz, General Manager of Miami Seaquarium demonstrated his non-compliance through public statements in media reports and by indications of intent to file monetary claims against oil corporation BP. These acts indicate Miami Seaquarium has an insufficient filtration system and a lack of reliable and adequate emergency sources of water in the event of failure of the primary source, as was anticipated to occur in August, 2010 via contamination from the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The contaminated water, with its toxic mix of chemical dispersants still poses a threat to the good health and well-being of the marine mammals housed in this facility.

Through published media at WPLG Channel 10 in Miami HERE, Mr. Hertz stated his intention to file a $3 to $5 million dollar claim against BP citing his requirement to upgrade the marine park’s filtration system

By this action, Mr. Hertz admittedly demonstrated that MSQ is not prepared, equipped or otherwise capable of carrying out a contingency plan (Plan) to provide emergency sources of water and/or arrangements for relocating marine mammals as is required by Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b). The news report states, in part:

“If I have damages, I’ve got dead animals that are irreplaceable. I need help on the front end to keep that from happening,” Hertz said. When the Seaquarium pulls saltwater from Biscayne Bay, the water goes through a complicated filtration system before it gets to the animals. But Seaquarium representatives said even that system cannot handle large amounts of oil, so they are looking at alternatives — but none of them are cheap. “Whether it is digging a deep well here on property that hits salt water underground or whether it is burying a new intake under the seabed out there so the seabed turns into a filtration system for us, however it works it is going to cost money I don’t have in my budget right now,” Hertz said.

Additionally, APHIS spokesman David Sacks indicated that a Plan exists but APHIS does not have a copy of the Plan. I believe this is an irresponsible act by APHIS by failing to maintain copies of Emergency contingency plans or to substantiate and/or verify the existence of such. Mr. Hertz went on to contradict the APHIS assertion that a Plan exists; “We have been consulting with APHIS as we develop our contingency plans. Once finalized, we will send the plan to them. Moving the animals is not a consideration”, Hertz added. Both Mr. Sacks’ and Mr. Hertz’s statements were made public in numerous media outlets including Washington’s Kitsap Sun HERE.

On July 6, 2010 John Kielty, an individual concerned for the wellbeing of marine mammals filed a request for information with the USDA/APHIS Freedom of Information Act office requesting to receive a copy of Miami Seaquarium’s contingency plan to provide emergency sources of water and/or arrangements for relocating marine mammals as is required by APHIS Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b). Additionally, he requested a copy of any proposed Disaster Plan submitted to APHIS regarding the pending contamination of the MSQ water supply by the gulf oil spill. This request was assigned case #FOIA 10-530. The response from APHIS dated July 20, 2010 states the following:

“The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) does not have a disaster plan requirement. Although a written “emergency” contingency plan for marine mammals must be submitted and approved by the Deputy Administrator, the AWA regulations do not require APHIS to maintain these plans. Nevertheless, Agency employees conducted a thorough search of their files and have advised the FOIA office that our Agency has no records responsive to this request.”

As the Gulf oil spill caused by oil giant BP was threatening captive marine mammals, including Lolita, Mr. Kielty objected to the claim that the AWA does not have a disaster plan requirement. Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b) clearly states the requirement for specific animal evacuation plans in the event of a DISASTER and additionally objected to the claim that APHIS does not have a copy of emergency plans as required by APHIS Regulation 9 CFR section 3.101(b).

Miami Seaquarium’s emergency contingency plans need to be made available to the many individuals and organizations that would need to make short term preparations should the evacuation of Lolita become necessary. In a recent interview with the Puget Sound Marine Life Examiner HERE, Howard Garrett of Orca Network expressed the need for immediate actions;

“I’d like to see something announced this week, either by APHIS or the SQ. It would be highly irresponsible to wait until the oil is lapping on the side of the park. There’s a lot of logistics to get into motion to get the bay pen prepared, the transport arranged, the personnel lined up, and to get her accustomed to going into a sling, give her physical exams, etc. The dispersant penetrates the skin and the oil kills rapidly. Letting her be hit by oil would be corporate negligence, like the BP gusher itself.”

The above statements clearly demonstrate there are contradictions and discrepancies in statements by APHIS officials and those by Miami Seaquarium’s management.


Section 3.101(2)(g) Facilities, general

“(g) Enclosure or pool environmental enhancements. Any nonfood objects provided for the entertainment or stimulation of marine mammals must be of sufficient size and strength to not be ingestible, readily breakable, or likely to cause injury to marine mammals, and be able to be cleaned, sanitized, and/or replaced effectively.”

Could this wetsuit be construed as ingestible or readily breakable? Is this an appropriate nonfood object to entertain or stimulate Lolita? Considering that her trainers wear wetsuits, is giving her one to “entertain” or “stimulate” Lolita a good idea for the safety of the trainers?

Sewage in Biscayne Bay

One of the most prolific reasons given by Miami Seaquarium staff and supporters of Lolita’s continued captivity is a claim that she is safer in the waters fed by Biscayne Bay than she would be in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, citing contamination in the PNW would kill her. This statement is false and perpetuated by the staffs at marine parks, but it’s not connected to reality. Howard Garrett of Orca Network indicates the toxins of Washington’s coastal waters are bioaccumulative endocrine disrupters, like PCBs, not infectious pathogens. No immunity can be built up, and since it takes decades for dangerous levels to accumulate in blubber layers, and the effects occur mainly only as a result of the effects of malnutrition, the toxins would not be a factor for Lolita.

Conversely, over-development of Miami-Dade has had a significant impact on surface water quality in Biscayne Bay. In many of the coastal areas in the region, the infrastructure to convey storm water and sewage is outdated. Storm water runoff from intensively developed properties and roadways, hydrologic modifications, and pollution from septic systems pose the greatest threats to water quality in Biscayne Bay as reported HERE and HERE.

In July 2010, a 72-inch pipe burst and spewed an estimated 20 million gallons of sewage into Biscayne Bay, city officials in some municipalities that were affected say Miami-Dade County did little to notify them. The cause of the break was due to the “catastrophic failure” of the reinforcing wire in the pipe which was manufactured by a company that is now out of business. The county may be faced with a large-scale and costly effort to prevent further breaks from occurring. Read more HERE.

With these water quality issues and Miami-Dade’s failures to notify businesses in the event of contamination, we can not rely on Miami Seaquarium to discover problems and react to protect Lolita and their marine life. As recently as 2007, Miami Seaquarium was cited for failing to meet the pathetic minimum standards for bacterial testing as required by the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS). The lax standards that are in place call for bacterial coliform testing to be performed at least weekly. Not a high priority for MSQ. On at least 3 occasions in 2007, Miami Seaquarium exceeded these minimums including a 15 day period in February, 2007 when no bacterial testing was performed. And this is only what APHIS has discovered and reported. This is just another example of Miami Seaquarium’s lack of concern for the welfare of their marine life.

Hurricane Threat

The 2010 hurricane forecast from the National Weather Service indicates ‘major hurricanes’ are ahead, and Miami Seaquarium has no Hurricane Preparedness plan, APHIS does not require and/or enforce a disaster contingency plan. MSQ has shown repeatedly that they are not equipped and/or capable of dealing with these frequent storms that ravage the southern Florida coast. The hurricane forecast can be found HERE.

As a result of hurricane Andrew in 1992, 5 sea lions were electrocuted when the pumping system in their pool flooded and over 60 sharks died of asphyxiation when silt laden bay water flooded the shark moat. But employees found five new baby peacocks, and a 50-pound baby manatee… so all was well.

In 2006, Miami Seaquarium re-opened after a storm surge from Hurricane Wilma dropped silt into low-lying exhibits, killing more than 1,000 fish and 15 sharks. Upon reopening, the park had even more fish, as curators collected more than 2,500 from Biscayne Bay and nearby reefs to replace the fish that died after the storm. “There’s twice as many fish as there were before Wilma,” Seaquarium curator Robert Rose said. Some of the new fish were donated, while Rose and other staff members went out on boats and donned scuba gear to do some of the collection themselves. Hertz said the storm cost $2.5 million in property damage and $4.4 million in lost revenue to the park. A nice little insurance claim. These disasters, natural or otherwise translate into a nice payday for MSQ and the Hertz’s. It all just comes at the expense of their marine life. CBS 4 reports HERE.


Miami Seaquarium Information:

Marine Exhibition Corp., Inc

dba Miami Seaquarium

4400 Rickenbacker Causeway

Miami, FL 33149


General Manager, Andrew Hertz (son of Wometco CEO Arthur Hertz)

From 1963 through 1967; 88 television episodes and two movies starring “Flipper” were filmed at MSQ. Richard O’Barry, former dolphin and orca trainer turned marine mammal activist, quit shortly after Hugo’s arrival stating that it was “ridiculous” to keep a grown killer whale in a tank that size. “Ric” O’Barry continues to advocate for Lolita’s retirement and return to her home waters.

The Miami Seaquarium is owned by:

Wometco Enterprises Inc. Headquarters

3195 Ponce DeLeon Blvd.

PO Box 141609

Coral Gables, FL 33134

Tel(305) 529-1400

Fax(305) 529-1466

900 employees

CEO: Arthur Herman Hertz (Father of MSQ General Manager, Andrew Hertz)

Wometco owns and operates amusement parks, theme parks and ice cream parlors. Through Subsidiaries operates Seaquarium (50%) and Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Parlors (50%)

Who is Arthur Hertz??

Arthur Herman Hertz

Born Sept. 10, 1933. University of Miami BBA

Home: 610 Fluvia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Home phone: 305-448-8425

This is the fellow giving the credit for all of Lolita’s abuse and neglect to US, the general public! As long as people buy tickets to see Lolita and to go into the Miami Seaquarium Lolita will remain a

SLAVE…. until she finally just gives up. As long as we make no attempt to address this issue, Lolita will remain in a state of distress and neglect.

Arthur Hertz is also-

*Chairman and CEO of Wometco Enterprises, Inc., a private company that owns the Miami Seaquarium®, Wometco de Puerto Rico, Inc.

*Owner/operator of 57 Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlors in Puerto Rico, and franchisee of Dunkin’ Donuts for Puerto Rico.

*Officer of Miami Wallscapes

*Seasoned real estate investor

*Chairman of the board of Theater Realty, Inc., Hertz-Brown Venture 167 Corp., and Sawgrass Investment Corp,

*Member of the University of Miami’s Board of Trustees, where he serves as the University’s representative to the DRIF board.

*Director of Diabetes Research Institute- We see how Lolita is treated, yet he plays an active role in helping humans!!!

*Active participant in numerous charitable causes and professional organizations throughout the South Florida community including:

Florida Tourism Commission

Visit Florida

Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation

Jackson Memorial Hospital Foundation


National Audubon Association

Orange Bowl Committee

Miami-Dade Public Health Trust

Miami Parking Authority

Arthur Hertz has been known to donate to organizations while leaving Lolita in a substandard sized tank for 40 years. Over $113,000.00 in Campaign Contributions in 2008 alone:

Joe Garcia for congress $9200

Schauer for congress $1000

Halvorson for congress $1000

Trauner for congress $1000

Act Blue $3000

Kagen 4 congress $1000

Obama $2300

Democratic congressional campaign committee $2500

Kosmas for congress $2300

Hoosiers for Hill $1000

Democratic senatorial campaign committee $6500

Wasserman-schultz for congress $4600

Zack space for congress $1000

Giffords for congress $1000

Raul Martinez for congress $4600

Carney for congress $1000

Lautenberg for senate $4600

Citizens for Harkin $500

Ros-Lehtinen for congress $1000

Tim Mahoney for Florida $4600

Klein for congress $4600

Democratic senatorial campaign committee $28500

John Kerry for senate $1000

DNC Service Corporation/Democratic National committee $43000

All of the above individuals allow Lolita to suffer in captivity while animal welfare laws and regulations are ignored.  Mr. Hertz has essentially bought their silence, inaction and ignorance.

In 2008, Mr. Hertz was honored by Public Relations Society of America with the Royal Palms Award.  These awards are presented to South Florida individuals who exemplify exceptional leadership and contributions to the public relations profession, the community, and education.

Arthur Hertz carries a $1,000,000 life insurance policy on Lolita. He has been offered this amount for Lolita’s freedom and to date; refuses the offer!

The Miami Seaquarium averages 2,000 visitors a day with Lolita being their star attraction. That’s approximately 730,000 people a year. At $35.95 an adult ticket and $26.95 a child’s ticket, that’s $22,958,500 a year, considering half the visitors are adults and half are children.

And this isn’t even taking into consideration the extra money they make on the swim with dolphin program, which they recently added at a cost of $5,000,000.

On top of that there are the food and beverage concessions, souvenirs, parking ($8 per car), photos as you enter, etc.

Lolita has helped the Miami Seaquarium earn approximately or even more than $895,381,500 in the 39 years she has been held captive there.

Yet Arthur Hertz refuses to let her free and he also refuses to build her a bigger tank!


Opponents of captivity for marine mammals have called for Lolita’s retirement and release from her pool at MSQ for years. Captured on August 8, 1970, from Penn Cove, Washington state and sent down to Florida to perform tricks for tourists, Lolita has resided in what is the smallest and oldest orca tank in the United States. The tank is merely one-and-a-half-times her size, has garnered numerous safety violations, and does not meet USDA/APHIS Regulations. Caring people have been trying to help Lolita for decades – writing letters, protesting, raising awareness – but Lolita’s captors are indifferent and uncaring, and they hide behind loopholes in the laws designed to protect our rare and valuable wild animals. Lolita, who is affectionately known as “Toki” (short for her true name, Tokitae – which means ‘shimmering water’ in Chinook), was captured right before implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act which helps protect her family members from being taken, although loopholes still exist in these laws. In 2005 the Southern Resident orcas were listed as endangered species. Because Lolita was caught ‘pre-act’, the powers-that-be excluded her from the status of endangered. Lolita’s family, including her mother, now believed to be 82 years old, still swim freely in the open waters where Lolita was captured. Because she was caught ‘pre-act’, the powers-that-be excluded her from the status of endangered. It’s time to return Lolita home, where her family awaits.

There are many wonderful people and organizations willing to work with the Miami Seaquarium, the Unified Commands’ Oil Spill Response efforts, local, state and federal officials and they are ready, willing and waiting to move forward with a rehabilitation, retirement and relocation plan for ALL their marine animals. Details of her retirement plan can be found here:

Campaigns to free Lolita:

Orca Network

2403 North Bluff Road

Greenbank WA 98253

(360) 678-3451

or toll-free at (866) ORCANET (672-2638) or email or visit:

Visit The Orca Project’s page on how YOU can help Lolita by clicking <HERE>.

70 Comments leave one →
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  13. permalink
    May 4, 2014 2:42 am

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  21. Blair Johnson permalink
    December 30, 2013 5:17 pm

    Regarding the address for Wometco Enterprises, Inc.
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  22. December 8, 2013 10:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Sherlockian's Blog.

  23. Genn permalink
    August 5, 2013 4:25 am

    Oh, Lolita. You are so magnificent. You don’t deserve this. Seeing pictures of you swimming in that chlorinated water makes me cry.

  24. February 27, 2013 3:35 pm

    “Lolita the Orca; Facts, Legal Issues and How To Get Her Home | The Orca Project” chouxiang was indeed a delightful posting, can’t wait to read
    even more of ur posts. Time to squander a little time on the internet lmao.
    Thanks a lot ,Betsy

  25. February 18, 2013 11:09 pm

    Is there a petition to sign????

  26. January 9, 2013 8:55 pm

    I actually consider this specific post , “Lolita the Orca; Facts, Legal Issues and
    How To Get Her Home The Orca Project”, rather compelling and also the post was in fact a good read.
    Many thanks-Genia

  27. October 7, 2012 12:24 pm

    This bowl is a sad excuse for keeping a wild animal in confinement. I mean that’s nothing compared to the ocean tht pool should be shut down unless held for smaller animals such as seals or manatees not huge whales like lolita who has suffered for many years . If she wanted to she could jump right out of tht pool. Its sad and inhumane and a whale should not have to live in such conditions. I’ve seen this tank for myself and its the worst most discrete thing I have every encountered this animal deserves more !!!!

  28. Mari permalink
    July 20, 2012 2:08 am

    While she needs to be retired and perhaps be able to live in an ocean pen for the rest of her life, I don’t think Toki would be able to survive if released as her front teeth are worn down to nubs from chewing on the gates many years ago. Seaquarium would not build her a bigger tank because they were not allowed to turn the park into a water park. It is a sad situation that she is in a little tank and without others of her species. She cannot however, be set free-she would not survive the wild.

  29. March 7, 2012 3:11 pm

    The Orcas do not belong in captivity, they belong back in the ocean to be free and to live as they were created to be. Here’s a thought to ponder, would you take a human and have them live in a closet the rest of their life and only let him out to perform and them put him back in, well that’s what your doing to the orcas!!! Set the Orcas Free.
    Thank you, Mary Dodge

  30. November 14, 2011 11:04 pm

    OMG. I am so sad and feel so ignorant. I had no idea. Lolita is 43 and her mother mother is 82? Makes me feel like she is human in that the orcas families deserves to be treated with a similar respect. I cry for the orcas in captivity. They deserve to be with their families in the wild. Correction, they have the RIGHT to be with their families in the wild.

  31. Madison permalink
    March 29, 2011 12:07 am

    I just can’t believe with all of this evidence and information there is still nothing being done about her tank and situation.
    And on antoher note, it is just disgusting that humans get to decide what is “adequate” space for a marine mammal. Who are we to decide such a thing? And how is 60 x 80 (if her tank were even that big) adequate for an orca? These animals live in the ocean and a measurement in feet is adequate?????? How did this happen? How did people become such selfish and dominating beings?

    Thank you for all of the information and work and effort. If there were more and more people doing the same, maybe getting her out can actually happen.

  32. Jennifer Sims permalink
    March 11, 2011 11:40 pm

    This is so incredible. I didn’t even know about this until i came across the Artikel about how captivie Orcas are being treated. I love Orcas. They are my most favorite animal and it’s just heartbreaking to see how they are being treated by human kind. I am guilty of wanting to be a Orca trainer but after researching and finding all this I have changed my mind forever! I’m heartbroken reading all this and cannot believe what I’m reading. I really am a HUGE believer that they need to retire the Orcas and stop breeding them!! seriously, FREE THE ORCAS, PLEASE! 😦

  33. Angie Hartman permalink
    March 9, 2011 9:44 pm

    What IU don’t understand is if the pool Lolita or any orca is kept in is illegal, then why is it being allowed????

  34. Sonia Fey permalink
    November 30, 2010 8:37 pm

    Please release all the Orcas……. they can not live in a fish bowl… they need the ocean…..

  35. Cindy permalink
    September 3, 2010 2:31 pm

    Wow…I had no idea that it was this bad there. How horrible.


  1. Meet Lolita | Against Dolphins in Captivity
  2. Orca’s | Sam5ive55 or Maybe just Sam...
  3. Sea World Admits to Giving Orcas Anti-Anxiety Drugs | verityst
  4. Thumbs Up! | Truth, Justice, and All-American Allergen-Free Apple Pie
  5. Keto and Tilikum Express the Stress of Orca Captivity | Catharsiopa
  6. Government Report: Killer Whale Lolita’s Welfare at Risk « The Orca Project
  7. Keto and Tilikum Express the Stress of Orca Captivity | Stop Cetacean Captivity
  8. Justice for Lolita. Taking Her Fight with APHIS to the Next Level. « The Orca Project
  9. Please help! Spread the word! (Everywhere) | Inland Empire ads
  10. The Truth about Lolita…? « The Orca Project
  11. Keto and Tilikum Express the Stress of Orca Captivity « The Orca Project
  12. Supporter “Talks Back” for Freedom of Captive Orca Lolita at Miami Seaquarium on 40th Anniversary « The Orca Project
  13. NARN Blog » Blog Archive » Action Alerts
  14. Lolita the Orca; Facts, Legal Issues and How To Get Her Home via The Orca Project
  15. The Hidden Cost Of Captivity: Oral Health of Killer Whales Exposed « The Orca Project

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