Lolita, the ‘world’s loneliest orca’ that has spent 45 years in captivity, will remain inside America’s smallest whale tank.
That is the devastating news announced by Miami Seaquarium earlier this week who say the whale is better off in captivity, citing the case of Keiko -the star of Free Willy– who was rejected by wild pods in Iceland before dying in 2003.
As reported by The Dodo, Lolita was snatched from the ocean at just four-years-old and has been performing at the tourist attraction ever since, in a tank that is only only four body lengths long and 20 feet deep.
Lolita, who would have spent near the entirety of her life socialising in a pod in the wild, has been solitary since 1980 when a male companion named ‘Hugo’ died.
Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) added Lolita to the same endangered species list as orcas that are swimming free, and it was hoped Seaquarium would bow to pressure for her to be reintroduced to the wild.
A petition set up by NOAA wants to see her introduced to a group referred to as L pod, which includes an 86-year-old they believe could be Lolita’s mother.
Seaquarium meanwhile has attempted to persuade crowds the park is committed to conservation by modifying it’s shows to be educational. These efforts have been ridiculed by experts, however.
Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine biologist who works with the Animal Welfare Institute told The Dodo:
I literally burst out laughing up in the bleachers…after they said killer whales vocalize with their blowholes.
It was so bad. It’s so wrong.
It’s like they just took all this really cool information…and just threw it in the trash.
It’s not a vocalization, it’s like burping … it is not something that you would actually consider a communication sound.
The situation is just cruel.