PETITION TARGET: Miami Seaquarium, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service, SeaWorld San Antonio
UPDATE (9/29/2023): We have learned that Li’i has been relocated to SeaWorld San Antonio, rather than a seaside sanctuary. In light of this development, we are redirecting this petition to SeaWorld asking that they initiate plans to relocate Li’i back to his home waters and the life he deserves as a dolphin. Thank you to everyone who has signed to voice your support of ending cruel dolphin captivity.
A dolphin named Li’i who was cruelly torn from his wild home as a young dolphin and then forced to perform unnatural tricks for more than three decades is now living alone in a barren tank and must be relocated to a seaside sanctuary.
Li’i (pronounced Lee-EE), was captured off the California Coast in 1988 when he was approximately five years old. After a brief stint at a Marine Laboratory, he moved to the Miami Seaquarium — where he was sub-optimally housed in a barren tank with orca Lolita until she tragically died.
“It’s such a sad, heartbreaking image to see him by himself in that disgusting pool,” said the veterinarian, a whistleblower who sparked an investigation into the Seaquarium.
Per the USDA’s animal care guide, cetaceans like Li’i are only allowed to be isolated with specific approval from an attending veterinarian.
Miami Seaquarium did not immediately respond to media inquiries.
Although Li’i has nine dolphin children with a long-time mate, Loke, he was kept in a tank with the orca — an arrangement that experts said was “less than ideal” given that he should have been with others of his own kind.
Loke and one of Li’i’s sons recently were shipped to a Chicago aquarium, whose spokesperson said there was an “urgent need” to remove the intelligent and sensitive animals from “insufficient environmental conditions.”
The Seaquarium has come under fire for its treatment of Lolita — including forcing her to work while injured and feeding her rotten fish. The facility has had 7 federal violations noted on inspection reports since February 2022 — including for cutting dolphins’ daily food by 60 percent to ensure they would perform for visitors, resulting in “very thin” dolphins, according to USDA reports.
The Seaquarium has told news that they are looking to move Li’i to SeaWorld in San Diego or the Shedd Aquarium in San Diego but that Li’is removal won’t happen “overnight.”
But we’ve seen what delays and excuses got Lolita — death, followed by dismemberment and incineration, far from her home waters and the family pod that intuitively gathered the day of her death.
Li’i was supposed to move with Lolita to a seaside sanctuary in the Puget Sound, and it’s critical that he still does — and as quickly as is possible to ensure his safe release.
Animals are not here for our entertainment, and Li’i must be moved and released to an area where he will never again suffer exploitation, family separation, and confinement to a tiny and barren tank. The Seaquarium has said it will make a decision shortly, so we must speak up for Li’i now.
Sign our petition urging the Miami Seaquarium to safely and quickly relocate Li’i to the seaside sanctuary so he can spend the rest of his years wild and free, living the life he deserves. We’re also asking the USDA to ensure Li’i is quickly relocated to a place that can ensure his welfare.