Thursday 31 March 2016 | 40

Lolita, the lonely orca, must go home

Kidnapped as a child and sentenced to slavery, she was locked up in a goldfish bowl and used as a showpiece for 46 years. They named her Lolita and she survives at Miami Seaquarium with an incredible rage, that only hope can explain.

Hr blog

Lolita's life could have been very different.

When she was born around 1966 into the L pod of the Southern Resident Orca Community, her mother, Ocean Sun (L25) and all of her family surrounded her in love and fiercely protected her. There were many orcas in British Columbia. Other than the occasional hunter who aimed at them from his boat, they led a peaceful life, forgotten by man, in the dark Pacific waters. At the age of one, Lolita had already learnt to hunt chinook salmon whilst continuing to suckle her mother. She had started to explore her environment, to go off and play with other children and learn the tribe's dialect. 

The little orca grew very quickly. At the age of three, she was joining in in group hunts, batting the fish towards her companions and discovering little by little how to find the best prey depending on the wind and the tides. Lolita was still very young, but she was already a proper member of her community. Her brain, weighing five kilos, took in all of the rules for survival in her powerful memory. One day, she would also become a respected matriarch followed by her adult sons and daughters and a whole band of grandchildren, free and happy in her world. But this wasn't taking into account a new industry, that of captivity…

Horror at Pen Cove.

On the 8 th August 1970, Lolita-Tokitae, at the age of four, swam alongside her family in Admiralty Bay towards Puget Sound in Washington State. Suddenly, the entire community of 85 orcas were violently forced into Penn Cove creek, in the sea off Whidbey Island. The operation 'Namu Inc' was launched! Two dolphin traffickers, Ted Griffin and Don Goldsberry, had put all the necessary means in place to capture their golden egg laying chickens: reconnaissance planes, speedboats, M-80 explosives thrown in handfuls into the water… Total chaos. The children were separated from their mothers by a line. Five orcas, of which four were children, drowned during the capture. To conceal the crime, the kidnappers opened their stomachs and stuffed them with chains and stones before sinking the bodies.

Lolita was hauled into a hammock whilst the adult orcas cried in distress. The youngsters called for their mothers with long heart wrenching calls. One of the pleading parents was the heart broken Ocean Sun, who watched her daughter be loaded onto a boat to never be seen again.

Lolita-Tokitae.

On arrival at Miami Seaquarium on the 24 th of September 1970, the little Tokitae was renamed Lolita. The six other L Pod children captured with her were distributed between Japan, Texas, the United Kingdom, France (Calypso) and Australia. They were all extremely young and they would all die less than five years later. Lolita is therefore today the only survivor of the 45 members of the Southern Resident Orca Community captured and sold between 1965 and 1973.

We know that this community is today struggling to recover from these captures, which were eventually banned, which meant that the capture of Orcas moved further North, to Iceland. Its population is now under threat and benefits from special protection under the Endangered Species Act. This law also applies to the Orca Lolita, and should be worth her freedom. But the industry resistance is strong and Lolita remains a prisoner.

Yvon Godefroid
Hr blog

In the subject

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Comments 40

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

Marinette | Saturday 17 March 2018

Horrible de séparer une famille dans de telles conditions. Quelle honte ! Ce sont des assassins qui méritent la prison. J'ai beaucoup de peine de lire de telles cruautés.

Cris | Wednesday 14 March 2018

Jamais plus d'animaux esclaves de l'homme.

Sarah | Thursday 14 September 2017

La liberté n'a pas de prix.

nath | Wednesday 13 September 2017

l'être humain me dégoute !!! j' ai plus de mots ....