Miami’s Seaquarium — the marine park where Lolita, the “world’s loneliest whale,” died after decades of being forced to perform “tricks” in captivity — is on the verge of shutting its doors after its lease was not renewed by the county due to a “complete disregard for the safety of the animals.” Several animal rights organizations have fought for decades to have the Seaquarium closed due to animal abuse and neglect, and now the marine park may finally be forced to do so.

“The Seaquarium has a long and troubling history of repeated, continuous violations of their contractual obligations to keep the property in a good state of repair, maintain animal welfare in accordance with applicable laws, and to comply with the lease,” Miami Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said, according to the Daily Mail.

Animal welfare advocates long decried the treatment of Lolita, the orca who had lived most of her 57 years stuck in a tiny 80 by 35-foot tank – the smallest orca tank in the U.S. Hugo, a whale who was briefly her companion, died from an aneurysm after repeatedly hitting his head against the tank walls, in 1980. Lolita lived the rest of her life alone.

As orcas are highly social animals and live in groups called pods that may consist of up to 20 or more whales in the ocean, Lolita should never have been forced to live alone — especially for decades in cramped confinement.

Over the years, the Miami-based aquarium has allegedly had over 120 dolphins and whales die in captivity due to trauma, attacks from fellow animals, entanglements in the pool fencing, and other causes.

Controversy again made the news last year as the 67-year-old manatee named Romeo – who had been at the Seaquarium since 1956 — was shown swimming alone in his tiny 30-foot concrete pool. He had been separated years ago from his mate, Juliet. Following public outcry, Romeo, Juliet, and another manatee named Clarity were removed from the facility.

The county letter serving as an eviction notice stated that US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports from 2022 to 2024 had seven citations against the Seaquarium for not properly maintaining the facility and another seven for inadequate veterinary care, according to NPR.

Included among the USDA’s citations were two dolphin-related injuries: a two-inch nail found in the throat of Ripley the dolphin, and a broken metal bolt in the mouth of another dolphin named Bihimi.

Peeling paint and mold was also be found throughout the building — including inside the penguin’s confinement. Other animal displays had murky algae-ridden waters and noxious odors.

The USDA also noted that the Seaquarium’s veterinary clinic did not stock necessary supplies; inspectors found ants living in the medicine and vitamin bottles.

For now, the Dolphin Company — which took over operations after purchasing the facility in 2022 — is refusing to close the Seaquarium’s doors, the Miami Herald has reported.

No marine animal should have to live their lives confined in such horrid, unnatural conditions for the sake of human “entertainment.”

Lady Freethinker applauds Miami-Dade County and all those who have fought for years to allow the whales, dolphins, and other animals suffering in captivity to relocated to a reputable sanctuary.