Li’i, the 40-year-old dolphin who shared a tank with a now-deceased orca known as Lolita or Tokitae, has been relocated from the Miami Seaquarium — but to SeaWorld San Antonio, rather than a seaside sanctuary.

SeaWorld announced the move on Facebook, claiming they are one of two parks in the United States that can care for elderly dolphins and that Li’i will experience an alleged “custom care regime that will be in his best interest.”

The business did not immediately respond to media inquiries about what kind of public interactions Li’i will be forced to endure.  But their website features opportunities for people to swim with and touch dolphins — an exploitative activity that has been deemed “unacceptable” by several other countries. 

Lady Freethinker formerly sent a petition to the Miami Seaquarium, urging them to quickly relocate Li’i to a seaside sanctuary near his home waters in the Pacific Northwest, from which he was cruelly captured as an infant. 

The Seaquarium did not respond to media inquiries or our petition but told news that the move to SeaWorld would allow Li’i to be with others of his own kind. 

“After the departure of Lolita, our animal care experts suggested his relocation to a habitat with other peers of his species, and our efforts to look into his well-being took him to Sea World in San Antonio,” the company posted on X, (formerly Twitter).

Their statement does not explain why they kept Li’i for decades in a tank with an orca, rather than other dolphins — a situation that animal welfare experts said was less than ideal for both animals.

The Seaquarium’s statements also don’t reference the numerous, preventable problems that federal inspectors have cited — including allegedly feeding Tokitae rotting fish, forcing her to perform while injured, and housing the the orca and Li’i inside the nation’s smallest tank within an allegedly decrepit stadium under a repair or demolish order from Miami Dade County.

The Seaquarium also has sued the animal activist who obtained footage that has since gone viral, showing Lolita and Li’i in their tank, alleging in part that the drone footage captured “unauthorized” images. 

Lady Freethinker is grateful that Li’i is no longer living in solitary confinement at the Seaquarium but is disappointed by this turn of events. And we’re not the only ones: Other animal protection groups, as well as an increasing number of the general public, are recognizing it’s cruel to keep marine mammals in captivity for people’s “entertainment.”

“By violating its promise to send Li’i to a seaside sanctuary and condemning him to spend the rest of his life in yet another concrete cell, the Miami Seaquarium has failed this long-suffering dolphin, just as it failed Lolita,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement.

Numerous comments left on social media also show the changing attitude of U.S. residents to dolphin and whale captivity. 

SeaWorld San Antonio limited who could comment on their post for Li’i to people who had been following their page for at least 24 hours and also showed notifications that several comments had been removed. 

Comments left on the Seaquarium’s social media post about Li’i’s relocation also condemned the choice to move him to another “entertainment” venue rather than his home waters, including from one user who wrote, “Too bad he can’t be released into the wild where he belongs,” and another who wrote simply, “Good luck, Li’i, you remain in our thoughts and prayers.”

We thank the more than 34,000 people who signed our petition to let the park know there are thousands of people who oppose this exploitation. Thank you for speaking up for Li’i and all marine animals cruelly kept in captivity.

It’s important that we continue to advocate for Li’i and all the other marine animals exploited in marine parks for people’s “entertainment.”  

Take Action:

Please take a moment to respectfully contact SeaWorld San Antonio and ask that they relocate Li’i to a sanctuary where he will be able to live free, far away from any additional forced interactions or exploitation:

Please also take a moment to respectfully call or write to the Miami Seaquarium and The Dolphin Company, Inc, and ask that they stop transferring animals to other parks to be put on display for human amusement and to instead transfer them to sanctuaries where they can actually live in the ocean, feel the waves, dive deep depths, and be free: