On the heels of Ringling Bros.’ announcement that it’ll shut down its operation in May as well as the death of Tilikum, the subject of the documentary Blackfish, at SeaWorld Orlando after languishing in captivity for 33 years, actor Kate del Castillo is teaming up with PETA to urge the Miami Seaquarium to see the writing on the wall and return the captive orca Lolita to the ocean, where she was seized from her family over four decades ago.
Lolita hasn’t seen another orca since 1980, when her tankmate, Hugo, died after ramming his head repeatedly into the side of their tank. Del Castillo, who stars in a new video screened at a Miami news conference on Tuesday, says, “Lolita’s story is particularly tragic and poignant to me because I come from a tight-knit family. And so does she.” She continues, “Orca families spend their entire lives together. Lolita should have spent her life with her mother and aunts and siblings. But instead, she has spent 46 long and totally miserable years stuck inside the world’s smallest orca tank at the Miami Seaquarium.”
The La Reina del Sur star is calling on her fans to boycott the facility, which she calls a “hellish tourist trap.” She says, “Everything moves me about Lolita’s story …. I think it’s devastating and it breaks my heart in every single way.”
PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” — has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for issuing an exhibitor’s license to the Miami Seaquarium, despite the facility’s alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. It has also filed a lawsuit against the park alleging that confining Lolita to a tiny tank with incompatible animals and virtually no relief from the hot sun violates the Endangered Species Act.