MIAMI – Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine urged the Miami Seaquarium on Tuesday to free Lolita the Orca after pushing for a symbolic resolution from the Commission of the City of Miami Beach, which called for the cetacean’s return to the sea after 47 years of captivity.
“Kindness to animals is not a political stunt,” Levine wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday.
The mayor called on Andrew Hertz, manager of the Miami Seaquarium, to do “the right thing.”
The petition joins a long-standing legal struggle led by the environmental group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which seeks the release of the killer whale.
The Miami Beach Commission voted unanimously last week on a resolution presented by Mayor Levine, who announced that he would seek the support of all Florida mayors to press for Lolita’s release “from her small, unsafe prison.”
PETA denounced that Lolita has spent her last 47 years in the “smallest orca tank in America” since being separated from her family group in 1970 in the Puget Sound, in the northwestern state of Washington, when she was just 4 years old.
In 2015, Lolita was included on a federal list of protected animals under the country’s Endangered Species Act (ESA), but the decision to release her depends on the aquarium, which was acquired in 2014 by the Spanish leisure park operator Parques Reunidos.
Hertz pointed out that there is no scientific evidence that the orca could survive if it were moved to open waters of the Pacific Northwest.