Friday 01 April 2016 | 15

Lolita, the Orca who kept hoping

At Miami Seaquarium, Lolita turns in circles. She doesn't know, but we are working to save her. For her perhaps: freedom. Soon.

Hr blog

The prison

Today, Lolita swims in a circular aquarium of 24 by 11 metres, and with a depth of 3 to 6 metres, surrounded by spectator benches under the Florida sun. When she turns upwards, her tail fin touches the ground, because her body is 6m long. Completely alone for 36 years now, she shares her tiny prison with a few Pacific white-sided dolphins.

The only Orca companion that she ever had was Hugo, caught two years earlier from the same L pod clan. Most likely a brother or a cousin. The couple never had children, even though the two captives were extremely affectionate with each other, sometimes publicly. Lolita and Hugo lived together for ten years in the "whale jar". Unable to cope with captivity, Hugo died from a brain haemorrhage by hitting his head repeatedly against the walls of the tank in the Spring of 1980. Lolita plunged into despair and there were concerns for her life. But the little orca kept going and today she is surviving the intolerable. Does she doubt what is planned for her? Is it hope that has kept her going far longer than a human would in her circumstances?


On the outside, everything has been prepared for her. A reliable rehabilitation plan has been established for Lolita by her longstanding friend, Howard Garrett, (founder of the Orca network), and a team of scientists. We just need a gesture from the company Aspro Ocio, who own her as well as the Antibes orcas, to open her prison doors to allow for an amazing occurrence in the close future. Imagine….


Lolita is in a bay close to the San Juan Islands, in the ocean off Washington State, having been transported by plane there. It has been a few weeks now since she rediscovered what she had never really forgotten: to catch her own fish, to dive, to voyage in the ocean. Her human friends take care of her but are becoming more and more discrete. One beautiful morning, we can hear a sequence of whistles coming from the ocean. The Southern Resident Orca Community is returning! 

It's the L Pod, her natal clan. The wild orcas swim carefully along the net cutting the creek, trying first of all to understand. Who is this stranger? They interrogate her, she clumsily responds in their dialect. It has been such a long time since she has spoken to someone! 

Suddenly, in the crowd of gathered orcas, a matriarch detaches herself and comes closer. She addresses the stranger, whistling her name, questioningly. Lolita starts and replies. They know each other! "Mother?..." Yes, it's Ocean Sun, her 80 year old mother who is looking straight at her. The net gently falls to the ground, whilst the two orcas lean on each other for the first time in 46 years! We don't know how orcas cry, but these two are surely crying in happiness. Now, all of the tribe wriggle, dive, hit the waves and welcome the unimaginable escapee from hell. Soon, their large fins will line up together, taking Lolita to the dark waters of Puget Sound. She was right to keep hoping…

But all of this is still a dream. Help us make it real.

Yvon Godefroid
Hr blog

In the subject

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Dolphinarium decree: not passed as ‘discretely’ as intended

Comments 15

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cousteau | Sunday 15 May 2016

Lolita.....ce sont les aquariums et les seaquariums qu´il faudrait boycotter mais des milliers de parents imbéciles y emmènent chaque année leurs enfants ....pas de clients, pas de commerce..

mado | Tuesday 05 April 2016

Oui on y croit, il faut que ça se passe comme ça elle a assez donné, cette exploitation a assez duré.

Sabrina | Sunday 03 April 2016

J'aime cette histoire... oui, la liberté pour Lolita!!!

Nine | Sunday 03 April 2016

de tout coeur pour Lolita et sa belle Liberté!!